Information Technology (IT) has been around as a recognized business function with associated personnel since the 1950s, but the value placed on the department, functions, and employees today are much different than they were 50+ years ago. The role of IT primarily focused on computer and telecommunications equipment management. Most organizations now employ predominantly knowledge workers who routinely create, process, and disseminate information as a primary job function. The advancement in digital technology and interconnected devices with ubiquitous connectivity and the associated data, now estimated to be doubling every two years, has the spotlight on IT and its staff. So, what type of leader do you need to create a modern day IT Dream Team?
You will notice the word leader. That is an extremely important point because it all starts at the top. Whether it is a CIO, IT Manager, or even the President or CEO in a smaller company, creating a center of excellence around IT is dependent on the individual at the top. What traits should you look for in this individual? What makes them so special and will allow them to develop and grow their team into IT all stars? Of course they need to keep the daily business operations running smoothly; that is a critical function that has to be within the skillset. We are talking about finding a leader for our dream team and for that we need vision. This means both his or her vision for the information management strategy as well as his or her view of the value, opportunity and risk inherent in the electronic information and systems he or she manage.
Thanks to the Sarbanes-Oxely Act (SOX), the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures (FRCP), and other legislation, along with the startling rate of accumulation of electronic data and its proliferation across the enterprise, most people in IT view information or data as a risk and potential expense. That said, in order to be successful today, organizations need an IT leader who can make sure the organization also sees information for its value and not just as a cost center. Therein lies the opportunity and the competitive advantage necessary in the digital age.
Information is an essential corporate asset and like any other corporate asset it has a few requirements from the time it is created until its ultimate disposal, including:
- Availability – easily accessible when necessary
- Security – protected, tracked and managed to mitigate risk and exposure
- Value – viewed at a strategic level, opportunity versus risk
- Disposition – disposed of on schedule at the end of its useful life
This lifecycle management is critical to reduce the amount of redundant, outdated and trivial information (ROT) within an organization. Awareness and understanding of this type of information lifecycle is a critical attribute necessary in the ideal IT leader. Their view must elevate information to a strategic level.
The ideal IT leader must recognize that it is no longer information management but information governance (IG). Information governance is a program he or she should view as an enterprise-wide initiative, endorsed by senior management and it should support the overall business objectives of the organization. To do this, the IG program needs to extend beyond IT, but it is the IT lead who should drive the strategy. IT needs to be led by an individual who:
- Understands user needs
- Understands the value of stored information
- Puts the proper governance processes and procedures in place.
The IT lead needs to ensure that both the strategic and tactical plans can be developed but also hold people accountable for their execution and success. He or she needs to be able to manage this process without putting undue burden and stress on day-to-day operations.
This is no easy task and no particular interview question will find you this ideal IT leader. But if you find these qualities, an individual with this type of perspective, you are well on your way to building your ideal IT Dream Team.