Enterprise IT Professionals Must Become Digital Business Leaders

The presence of technology innovation outside the walls of the firm is becoming increasingly common. LEF has identified the top 100 current and emerging technologies in areas such as cloud, SaaS, e-commerce, machine intelligence, and the internet of things. Leveraging these capabilities requires IT professionals to think from the outside-in.

“But Enterprise IT has always been among the most inside-out parts of the firm, as IT professionals have needed to sustain a strong heads-down focus on complex internal systems, applications, and processes. Making the transition from inside-out to outside-in is among the most important challenges facing Enterprise IT today,” said David Moschella, lead paper author and LEF research director.

In recent years, many firms have appointed Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) to help Enterprise IT partner more effectively with their overall organization. “Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these BRMs has often been undermined by a deeply entrenched us versus them IT Services mindset,” said BRMI co-founder Aleksandr Zhuk.

To improve this situation, in recent years the LEF and BRMI have sought to raise the game of the BRM function through a series of training programmes, accreditation, and experience-based development workshops. Looking ahead, however, this type of internal partnering-while still essential-is no longer sufficient. “Information Technology now touches upon just about every aspect of the modern organization, and this expanding digital mission is creating opportunities for BRMs to become true Digital Business Leaders (DBL),” explained Moschella.

By developing and mobilizing an elite cadre of DBLs, IT organizations can establish and lead a community (ideally, a critical mass) of like-minded digital enthusiasts across the firm. To stave off born digital rivals, every organization needs a place for technology vision, innovation, experimentation, and learning. “Enterprise IT should be at the centre of these efforts,” added Zhuk.

The differences between traditional BRM and emerging DBL are contrasted further in the figure illustrated.

Of course, no one can say how technology will evolve over the coming years, but for those Enterprise IT professionals who can grow from Business Relationship Managers into true Digital Business Leaders, the possibilities have never been greater. We are still in the early stages of the advanced technology revolution, but this is where the next generation of business leaders will first emerge.