Technology executives have an important and challenging role in any organization. From cloud transformation to the composable enterprise, organizations have increasing business demands for data, applications and new technology like generative AI. It can be hard to navigate priorities when so many business functions rely on IT. So we reached out to a group of CIOs, CTOs, CEOs and other technical leaders for their advice on how to manage an adaptable, scalable, and strategic IT department.
The responses were constructive and insightful, and highlighted some key attributes for success in tech leadership:
- Align technology operations and infrastructure with business and revenue goals
- Stay open to new ideas, be flexible, and allow your teams to adapt
- Lead the way on data, AI, and emerging technologies
We’ve rounded up the top tips from our tech leaders to share with you. Take a look.
Have a tip to share? Send it to us here.
Use your expertise to drive business strategy and outcomes
- “Tech leaders play a vital role in connecting the dots between technology and business strategy. It goes beyond managing project backlogs and sprints. Effective IT leaders must possess a profound comprehension of the company’s business objectives and strategy. This entails being well-versed in both short-term and long-term goals, revenue targets, market positioning, and customer needs — rather than solely focusing on the latest technology trends.”
– Marc Klamecki, CIO, i9Everywhere
- “Empower colleagues in creative, strategy, and account service with tech insights via workshops, emails, and Slack updates. For example, I manage a Slack channel on Generative AI, sharing regular updates and hosting workshops. Technical leaders uncover fresh business opportunities, crafting tools for improved analytics and media operations. This proactive stance fuels growth and bridges the tech-business gap. Effective communication simplifies intricate tech ideas for non-technical stakeholders while fostering cross-functional collaboration ensures tech solutions align with customer needs and fuel business growth.”
– Juan Tubert, CTO, Tombras
- “Learn the operations and supply innovation to grow and enhance sales.”
– Vince Fattore, CIO, Presbyterian Homes and Services
- “CIOs can be a key part of business success and growth by understanding business goals, staying current with technology trends, partnering with business leaders and leveraging a strategic mindset to recommend technology that focuses on customer needs as well as improves business growth. In addition, technical leaders must be able to communicate effectively with the business leaders and must leverage data and analytics to inform technical and business decisions.”
– Patty Patria, CIO, Babson College
Demonstrate the usefulness of data
- “As we were recently launching our data offerings on Snowflake and discussing how to best position the product, our team presented a very complex and broad number of SKUs. My immediate instinct was to simplify the offering and organize data around our capabilities within Snowflake and the basic views. The bigger picture is around brand and product, stewardship and alignment of the technology with the offering. We are in constant pursuit of that alignment.”
– Vera Silver, CIO, Bitvore Inc.
- “By providing data-driven decision making: Lead the use of data analytics to make strategic and informed decisions. By leading cost-effectiveness: Optimize resources to control costs while maintaining quality. Know what current and past services can successfully be eliminated without negative impact. Strategic alignment: Ensure technical decisions are fully aligned with the mission and overall business strategy. Foster an innovative culture. Lead with effective communication around technical concepts to help stakeholders make informed decisions.”
– Brady Mills, CIO, Westminster Public Schools
- “Focus on research and development, create a learning culture, and build strong relationships. Be agile, listen to customers’ words, and invest in your people. Make smart decisions based on data for long-term success.”
– Max John Maybury, Senior Software Developer, The Bunch
Lead the way on AI
- “Harness the power of generative AI to amplify your insights. Collaborate with AI models like GPT-3 to analyze data, predict trends, and generate reports swiftly. Automate routine tasks, freeing up time to focus on strategic decisions. Craft personalized customer experiences with AI-driven recommendations. Leverage AI’s ability to process vast datasets to unearth hidden opportunities. Embrace AI and these methods and they will enable you to lead your tech company toward exponential growth while staying ahead of the competition.”
– Gregory Zelo, CIO, Veeco Instruments
- “Stop thinking of AI exclusively as “automated decision making” but augmented decision making. Embrace the idea of Augmented Intelligence. This approach solves a lot of issues with AI as it increases transparency, helps overcome limitations in AI (bias, misinformation) and therefore reduces legal risks with AI adoption. For example, don’t make decisions on a CV automatically, instead show the candidate what parts of the CV you are reading, allowing them to amend the data in a structured form.”
– Lukas Kahwe Smith, CTO, Witty Works
Encourage leadership in others
- “Teach your team to scale: Enable your best people to grow through seeing their own career advancement align with the scaling of the company. For example help your hands-on architect/dev lead/tech expert get excited about leading others, learning new skills, and giving more value to the company and themselves as their roles progress to manager, or director. CIOs are the buyers of technology. Share your own and your peers’ thoughts as a buyer of technology with your company. What product capabilities are of most interest to your peers? Share what you see the best technology companies doing to get, retain, and grow your commitment to them.”
– Paul Heard, CIO, Mimecast
- “As an IT leader, fostering a culture of innovation is key to growing a tech company. Encourage your team to think creatively and embrace new technologies to stay ahead in the ever-evolving tech landscape.”
– Robert Blum, CEO, BlumSafe
- “Continuously scan the technology landscape to see how technology can be leveraged to give a competitive edge to your business. Invest heavily in in-house training, including hiring from universities and teaching youngsters your tech stack, product and culture. This will ensure a steady stream of cost-effective talent. Lead with patience, humility and kindness. Tech can be stressful. Great leaders make it fun, increase productivity and deliver business outcomes.”
– Samudra Gupta, CTO, Numr
Be open to learning new things
- “Accelerated and continuous learning is one of the super strengths of successful technology leaders. Learning quickly and continuously about technology and business trends and developments enables technology leaders to make technology an enabler and competitive differentiator for the business. Assess what you need to learn, develop a learning agenda (I like to keep this to 3 to 5 competencies at a time), then tap into a variety of learning sources to hone your skills in that area.”
– Bashir Agboola, VP/CTO, Hospital for Special Surgery
- “As a technical leader, it’s easy to grow and expand on the hard skills. However, to pave the way for growth and collaboration, you’ll need to foster soft skills and educate yourself on how other business departments work. For example, to grow business acumen, grasp commercial knowledge and experience the support customers need. You can achieve this by roaming across other departments, and taking one-day internships.”
– Melvin Rook, CTO, Funxtion
- “Embrace adaptability. In the fast-paced tech landscape, staying rigid is a recipe for obsolescence. As IT leaders, we must foster a culture that welcomes change, continually invests in upskilling, and harnesses innovative tools. By being proactive, not just reactive, we position our companies at the forefront of growth and relevance.”
– Tyler Guffey, CEO, SycamoreNet
- “Listen to, understand, and meet the business where they are.”
– Fernando Somoza, Director of Enterprise Systems and Data Services, PowerPlan
- “When you’re in the tech game, it’s not just about the latest gadgets or cool features. It’s how you roll with the punches. My secret sauce in IT? Make sure everyone’s always learning and ready to zig when others zag. It’s not just about keeping our tech fresh; it’s about pushing the whole business to the next level.”
– Sudhir Khatwani, President & CEO, The Money Mongers
Get the tools you need to scale with success
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Contribute your own advice
Let’s keep this thread going. Want to add your two cents on IT leadership? Submit your advice on how technical leaders can be a key part of business success and growth. If selected, we’ll contact you to let you know when your tip will be featured.