Businesses lack IT leadership skills: PwC

Businesses lack IT leadership skills: PwC

Summary: Companies lack leadership skills when it comes to actually implementing IT strategies, and it's up to IT workers to step up and push for technological change within an organisation.

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Companies are reluctant to take risks when it comes to implementing new technology, and IT workers should take on leadership roles to fast-track technology adoption, according to Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) Director Pierre Legrand. He was speaking at the Australian Computer Society's Young IT conference in Sydney.

Legrand said that a majority of CEOs are looking for change within their own businesses in response to the volatile economic climate. They are keen to reduce costs, but increases in the efficiency of their existing staff, and many turn to technology as an answer to their needs.

Trends such as cloud and BYOD are a response to CEOs trying to meet the changing demands of staff that want to work more efficiently.

But when it comes to actually enacting technology strategies, Legrand saw a distinct lack of direction from his clients.

"Generally, the thing I found from company to company was the significant absence of leadership," he said. "What's happened is we almost use IT as a defacto answer to all the questions around taking decisions."

"The more I go around, I hear questions like 'what should I do with cloud?' and 'where should I go with my BYOD strategy? — they forget to take a little risk."

And companies have to take risks, even in such an uncertain business environment, according to Legrand. He highlighted the lingering concerns about the cloud, such as security and uptime, but the technology does produce cost-savings — it's about understanding the risks and managing them.

While big organisations are looking at plans to implement new IT offerings into the business, it is up to the IT professionals inside these organisations to see t become a reality, Legrand said.

"For IT staff, it doesn't mean being the best technician or the best IT professional you can be," he said. "We live, run, and breathe business, and IT is an element of that business."

For IT staff that want to advance their careers, it is about taking on a leadership role and ensure the plans that implement IT are executed in a timely manner, according to Legrand. Leadership, according to the PwC director, has less to do with the technical aspects of decision making, but more about having the guts to actually make the decisions.

Earlier yesterday, Commonwealth Bank CIO Michael Harte also emphasised the importance for IT professionals to have more than just technical knowledge, but an understanding about the businesses they are working for as well.

"They need the ability to look at IT trends and opportunities out there and make decisions," he said. "Don't talk about it for a year, don't put 80 levels of governance around it, don't try to ask a million people for approval."

"They need to ask themselves 'what is the opportunity that exists to actually change the way businesses achieve results in a volatile market?'"

Topics: IT Priorities, IT Employment

Spandas Lui

About Spandas Lui

Spandas forayed into tech journalism in 2009 as a fresh university graduate spurring her passion for all things tech. Based in Australia, Spandas covers enterprise and business IT.

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  • Leadership? Most managers cannot differentiate between IT vs non-IT problem

    Leadership is a problem. Unfortunately, most managers cannot even tell the difference between a problem that requires an IT solution and a problem that requires a non-IT solution. I worked for a large organization with 2 accounts payable solutions: one highly automated, another very manual. The manager of the manual accounts payable solution requested IT to increase automation. I was assigned to architect the solution. What I found was that manual accounts payable solution was required 10 years ago when the automated accounts payable solution was first put in because the automated accounts payable solution could not handle some accounts but this was no longer the case. My recommendation: no IT project; move all accounts to the automated accounts payable solution. Lack of leadership? The manager decided that it was too much work to move the accounts. Perhaps he was preserving his job.
    waltersokyrko
  • Developing leadership in an ignored area.

    Working directly with technology it seems beyond me how any sized company can these days, throw money at the wrong places and ignore the essentials of having a functioning, confident I.T. department. This department is actually in control of how business is run regardless of whether it's external, integrated systems or public accessed web interfaces. Time and again I beg CFOs to exchange even one of the sales team's 'perks' for a tiny piece of hardware to help the I.T. dept. get their job done.
    developing_leadership