Technology Executive Arsenal: Must-Have Skills for Leaders

Can today's technology leaders really handle the pressures of a fast-paced digital world? With these five skills, you can stay competitive and effectively tackle new challenges.

Sam Ferrise, CTO, Trinetix

May 29, 2024

5 Min Read
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Mohd Izzuan Roslan via Alamy Stock

While successful innovation adoption is a collective effort, technology executives are managing a wide range of expectations. According to a Deloitte study, around 35% of technology leaders admit to being tasked with developing a digital strategy. In the same study, 22% of respondents are expected to accelerate innovation adoption, and 15% of them are responsible for ensuring technological agility across their organization.  

Given these new responsibilities, do technology executives have the skills and knowledge to integrate them successfully across their enterprises?  

To answer this question, technology executives need to self-assess their skill set, map out new priorities, and identify the blind spots on the transformation enablement journey.   

Leadership Evolution: Proactive, Creative, Agile

Understanding what skills technology executives lack requires examining how digitization is transforming the role of tech leaders. The difference between then and now is significant and can be characterized by these three aspects: 

  • Agility. Many business roles have transcended beyond their historically rigid constraints. The role of technology executives is no different in that regard: proactivity, quick responses to potential improvements, and adaptability to new conditions are part and parcel of what it takes to be a digital transformation leader. 

  • Value, now. Slow and steady no longer wins the race. Technology leaders are expected to respond to opportunities right here, right now. Experimenting, evaluating results, and calculating value should be conducted at a dynamic pace to seize promising options and discard everything non-viable.   

  • Creativity. Technological leadership is no longer about complying with routines. To make a difference in their company, technology executives should not only organize operations but also ideate new concepts and pave the way to their realization.   

What's important to take from these observations is that the role of technology executives is no longer static. It relies on professional insight, experience, and the unique human qualities of a leader who brings innovation to drive business value. 

5 Skills That Get Technology Execs Through Modern Challenges 

As companies that commit to innovation have been documented to improve their performance by 20% on average, lagging behind is becoming a highly undesirable outcome for technology executives. To put their enterprise among the leaders in innovation adoption, they need to practice versatility and considerably diversify their skill arsenal. 

1. Embracing operational discipline

Operational discipline is far from interesting. However, this is what enables good organizational hygiene and prevents metaphorical fires. Technology executives want more time to focus on finding alignment between business and tech, adopting new ideas, and accelerating change. To do so, they need to build a solid framework that includes a robust support system, cost-efficiency management, and technology use policies. Such a solid foundation makes it easier for technology executives to generate business value and get a clear picture of their tech health.  

2. Building a culture of innovation through leadership

As leaders, technology executives should be proficient in communication, team management, and setting trajectories. However, in the context of enterprise digitization, tech executives also assume the role of innovation evangelists. Experimenting and driving innovation requires a new mindset -- and technology executives are the ones who are expected to establish it by removing organizational resistance, democratizing experimentation, and collaborating with department stakeholders. Additionally, as nearly 44% of previously full-time employees have switched to remote, tech executives are in charge of developing productive hybrid strategies. 

3. Maintaining direction with strategic planning

Technology executives are tasked with making digital change happen, and their work involves ensuring synergy across the entire organization. Therefore, they need to build feedback loops, explore opportunities beyond their current technology stack capacity, and apply future vision to their enterprise journey. A successful strategy is built on merging several perspectives (human, technology, business) into a single high-precision lens (with an ever-widening aperture) to identify key opportunities. 

4. Honing technology knowledge

Technology takes more than just planning. Technology executives should always understand what it takes to create a product or operate a platform and what obstacles can be encountered throughout the journey. It is an imperative for technology leaders to consistently update their knowledge and practices, from deepening their understanding of DevSecOps and Agile methodologies to keeping abreast of the latest disruptive technologies, such as generative AI. 

5. Setting course toward resilience and sustainability 

In a time of uncertainty and security threats, technology executives need to be a beacon of resilience and stability. They are expected to have a planned response for potential AI exploits and hacker attacks, update their security posture, and educate employees. In addition, technology executives are prompted to contribute to social responsibility, technology use regulation, and carbon footprint reduction, selecting responsible vendors and investing in sustainable technology options.  

With Great Responsibility Comes Great Opportunities

While technology executives have an overwhelming amount of new duties and roles to manage, they are also presented with unique options to make a groundbreaking difference for their organizations -- and even their industry. Making the most out of these options is a matter of initiative, communication, and experimentation. New achievements are made from great discoveries, which start with informed decisions, normalizing failure through experimentation, and a desire to go beyond limits.  

About the Author(s)

Sam Ferrise

CTO, Trinetix

Sam Ferrise is the Chief Technology Officer at Trinetix, where he is responsible for the company’s technology strategy, accelerating value delivery for clients and ensuring alignment with the latest architecture, engineering, and security standards. Trinetix is a global technology company that provides strategy, design, and innovation services to Fortune 500 and fast-growing businesses in professional services, logistics, financial services, healthcare, and agriculture.  

Sam progressed from a solution architect to a senior technology delivery leader at Deloitte US. He led the delivery and support of enterprise and client-facing products, from internet-scale mobile products to sophisticated mission-critical enterprise applications, from risk advisory services to travel and hospitality. 

In 2022, Sam co-founded Emergest as Chief Digital Officer to provide unique technology globalization services to businesses across various industries.

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