Businesses lack IT leadership skills: PwC

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.
Written by Spandas Lui, Contributor

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?'"

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