If you’re a business leader, that probably hit hard. In today’s connected era, you are going to have trouble with the rapid pace of IT change. Maybe it’s a generational issue – baby boomers in senior management are used to running things the way they always have. But the millennials and Gen Zers out there, cranking out new IT solutions (and creating ever more problems), are all about now, now, now instant gratification. Are you sure you can keep up?
Those IT issues you’re dealing with – playing catch up with the competition to leverage new technologies and protecting yourself from new cyberthreats (ransomware is the flavor of the week) – are more than just one-off issues. In today’s world, IT isn’t just an operations problem. If you’re dealing with systematic IT trouble, it probably means you have leadership issues. But it might not be time to fire yourself, just yet. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how leadership style has an impact on your IT management and how strategic rethinks could help you pick up the slack.
IT Problems Are Now Everyone’s Problems
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when IT was just another functional department. When you had IT problems – sure, that would annoy some people in the workforce, but they were isolated from the business on the whole. You had IT problems, you had ops problems, you had HR issues (though hopefully not all at the same time!). What’s changed since then?
With the rise of digitization, key processes across departments have become dependent on IT. Want to optimize payroll? Check with the IT guy. Want to optimize your sales outreach? Check with the IT guy. Want to order pizza for lunch? Check with the IT guy and make sure Uber Eats has a policy exception.
In earlier days, senior leadership had to pay attention to IT, but only as one of a number of functional departments. When IT issues would raise their heads, quick fixes and band-aid solutions were enough. But in today’s world, every department is IT, to a greater or lesser extent. Quick fixes are no longer enough for damage control. And growth and development often mean further IT integration. Post-COVID, with work-from-home becoming the norm, IT is playing an even bigger role. IT doesn’t just support other functional departments. IT solutions allow them to continue to exist and perform.
What does this all mean for you as a business leader? You need to futureproof your leadership approach by giving IT its due as the key strategic factor.
Treating IT Management as a Business-Wide Function
It’s clear what you need to do as a leader: You need to make sure your overall business strategy and your IT management strategy go hand in hand. In the current work-from-home environment, this often means recognizing that seemingly intractable department-level problems have actual solutions, if you’re willing to invest strategically in IT. Let’s take a look at a few cases.
Getting Work-From-Home to Actually Work
Work-from-home is the single most compelling reason right now to rethink your leadership when it comes to IT. WFH isn’t just about getting everyone on Zoom calls. It’s about leveraging IT solutions to re-engineer your processes so you meet or exceed your on-site efficiency levels.
When you use old-school leadership approaches, you’ll end up trying to reconstruct your physical workplace in a virtual space – ignoring the strengths and weaknesses of IT-based remote work. When you put IT first, you’re able to reconceptualize workflows to maximize efficiency in a remote environment. Using cloud-collaboration tools, for example, you can get different parts of a project documented completely asynchronously by different team members. The idea is to think of IT as an opportunity to do things better, not a way to replicate old systems.
IT Security: It’s for Everyone
Security is another area where old thinking and old leadership don’t cut it anymore. Old approaches to IT security treat it as a secondary concern. You have cameras in the office for on-site security and a legal team to mitigate liability risks. “IT? Yeah, we’ve got an antivirus and a firewall. What more do we need?” is how many old-school business leaders view IT security. Ten years ago, that might’ve flown.
But today, data security encompasses all aspects of your business. Your operations data, sales and marketing, sensitive HR documentation and so much more are all stored on IT systems. Today’s work-from-home business environment makes security even more of a challenge. With everyone logging in from home, on unsecure networks, on their own devices, the attack surface for security threats is far greater. There’s so much more risk because of how easy it is for threat actors to hack your employees’ personal devices. Old-school strategy considers IT security to be an acceptable risk.
Often, this means working with passive IT providers who take a “Fix it when it’s broken” approach to your security and IT infrastructure. Today’s world demands proactive managed IT services and technology consulting from partners who are invested in your long-term security.
So much of what your business does is based on IT and digital. As a business leader, you need to understand how IT security has an impact on everyone, not just the IT department. In the long term, making cybersecurity a priority could save you millions in terms of the data breaches and security incidents you avoid.
What You Can Do as a Leader
In terms of business leadership, this is a sink-or-swim moment. As a leader, you need to realign your business strategy to give IT the importance it’s due. The most effective way to do this is to work with a trusted managed IT partner who can reinforce your cybersecurity and help you re-engineer processes for today’s low-touch economy.
Provide the proper technology training for your staff and continue to put a focus on data and network security by building a culture of proactive security.
Reach out to Secure Networks today. Let’s set up a call and chat about how to lead your company into the digital future.