In the last decade, the role of the CIO and of IT in general has changed drastically. Instead of simply trying to get technology to the company for the least amount of money possible, the IT department today plays a much larger role in the overall strategy of the company. There’s never been a more exciting time to be in HR. Here are three of the biggest ways the role of IT is changing with the future of work:
IT used to be viewed as a backroom function in many organizations, with the main role just keeping the lights on and everyone’s computer running. There was little focus on business solutions. Today, however, IT is much more focused on overall business strategy and how to help employees use data to drive growth in the organization. The CIO now has a seat at the table with other executives and can play a major role in deciding the future of a company. Because of the growing role technology can play in an organization, IT is one of the most exciting areas of organizations today, and according to Jim Fowler, CIO of GE, no one has a better wing-to-wing view of an organization than the CIO because he or she is involved in so many strategic areas. In order to contribute to the overall strategy of an organization, CIOs and other IT leaders need to have a good idea of the technology priorities and ensure that an organization is spending the time and resources on the data and technology that really matters when it comes to increasing revenue and driving growth.
Instead of working on their own, IT employees now have opportunities to collaborate with other departments to make sure all areas of the company are using the newest and most effective technologies. IT commonly collaborates with HR, as is seen at GE with regular strategy sessions between the CIO and the CHRO. As Jim explains, IT and HR recently joined forces to reimagine an outdated system at GE — the employee management system that hadn’t changed for more than 50 years. A team of HR and IT employees came together to consider what the tool should really look like and how it could be effective for employees and use the best technology. Their solution is a Twitter-like platform that allows managers to provide real-time feedback and employees to request feedback from people they interact with. The result is a much more connected workforce that encourages employee development in real time and that has created more effective teams and more open communication. If either HR or IT had tried to create a new system on their own, they would not have come up with something as effective or well received as what they were able to create together.
IT no longer lives in a bubble, especially in large, global organizations. In order to truly be successful, IT needs to be aware of what is happening around them, both within the organization and throughout the world. Technology is constantly changing, and making sure employees have the best resources to drive results can make a huge impact. However, Jim also warns that in many cases it is wise to step aside and let employees run with technology if they find a better solution. Another growing role of IT is cybersecurity, especially when it comes to data security and hacking. At GE, IT employees pay attention not only to technology trends, but also to what is happening within the global economy to make sure their strategy and security plans are cohesive and work well with the global landscape.
IT is growing increasingly important in many organizations, and that will surely continue as technology continues to grow and increase. It’s an exciting time to be involved in IT, and the smartest companies will incorporate these changes into how they run their businesses.
Listen to the CIO of GE on how the role of IT is transforming here.
My new book, The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley, March 2017) analyzes over 250 global organizations to understand how to create a place where people genuinely want to show up to work. Subscribe to the newsletter here or become a member of the new Facebook Community The Future If… and join the discussion.