Having an IT advocate at the board level is crucial for organizations, ensuring information technology is not relegated to a support function but is recognized as a strategic driver of business success. This advocate should possess the knowledge and perspective to bridge the gap between technical intricacies and overarching business objectives. They champion IT initiatives, align IT investments with the company's long-term strategy, and advocate for the necessary resources and support. In doing so, they empower the organization to harness the full potential of technology, drive innovation, and remain competitive.
But when it comes time to choose an IT advocate, who should you look to?
Why Effective Advocates May Not Necessarily Manage IT
Without strategic leadership at the board level, IT decisions may lack direction and coherence, leading to misaligned IT investments and missed opportunities for innovation and growth. While IT managers play a crucial role in overseeing day-to-day operations and technical aspects of IT, they often face limitations that prevent them from being effective advocates at the board level. These limitations include:
Oversight and Technical Focus: IT managers are primarily responsible for managing IT operations and ensuring technical functionality. This focus may leave them with limited time and perspective to engage in strategic discussions at the board level.
Overwhelmed with Daily Tasks: IT managers are often inundated with daily tasks, troubleshooting, and project management, leaving them with little capacity to step into the role of a strategic advocate.
Business Goals vs. Technical Expertise: IT managers may excel in technical expertise but may not possess the necessary business acumen to effectively communicate IT's strategic value to the board.
A Third-Party Advocate at the Board Level
In some cases, organizations may consider engaging third-party experts to communicate with the board regarding IT matters. This approach can be advantageous for several reasons:
Expertise and Objectivity: Third-party experts bring specialized knowledge and a neutral perspective, ensuring that board discussions are informed and objective.
Effective Communication: These experts excel in translating complex technical information into language that board members can understand, facilitating productive discussions and avoiding getting “in the weeds” with day-to-day tasks.
Access to Best Practices: Third-party advisors often have experience working with multiple organizations, allowing them to share best practices and industry benchmarks with the board.
Resource Efficiency: By outsourcing this role, internal IT managers can focus on their core responsibilities, ensuring that IT operations run smoothly.
Having an IT advocate at the board level ensures that IT is not viewed as a mere support function but as a key driver of business growth. This advocate can bridge the gap between the technical aspects of IT and the overarching business objectives, ensuring that IT investments align with the company's long-term strategy.
We’re Here to Help
Evaluating the strength of your IT team goes beyond technical proficiency; it involves assessing the presence of an IT advocate at the board level, recognizing the limitations of IT managers, understanding the need for strategic leadership, and appreciating the value of retaining internal IT teams. A well-rounded IT team with strategic vision and advocacy can drive innovation, enhance competitiveness, and contribute significantly to the overall success of the organization.