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Defining IT Leadership: You Have a Brand New Job

At Interop ITX, coming up next month, a track of more than two dozen presentations will provide valuable advice to IT executives, including pointers on how to balance technical and soft skills for their teams and themselves.
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There's a never-ending shift in the balance between the hard tech skills and the "softer" business and communication capabilities that IT leaders need. What's the role of the CIO? Well, it depends on where we are in computing's continuum.

Many years ago, the newly christened role of CIO called for that executive to sit in the C-suite coordinating all information resources and strategizing new business initiatives based on data. With the dawn of the Web and truly mobile computing that CIO shifted into the "uber geek", identifying gadgets and apps that "someone, anyone" in the enterprise might need. That mistake bumped plenty of CIOs out of the executive suite and back to the data center. Just five years ago, those CIOs were left in maintenance mode, keeping costs down and systems running as a utility.

Today, CIOs and their teams are back in management's good graces. We have plenty of data and more computing power in our pockets than the pioneers like the IBM 360 team could imagine for whole companies in the 1960s. Now CIOs are on a mission to turn data --  spread across corporate systems, the cloud, employee phones, even customer computers and employee experience -- into information that can be brought to action for the of the company and its customers.

It's time for the CIO to be a leader, to work across departmental borders and even with external partners to define a data strategy, to tap the knowledge resting in all those silos, to understand the needs of business units, and to identify opportunities.

When Interop ITX kicks off in May at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that leadership role will be a key focus. Throughout the week of May 15, UBM will present an IT Leadership Summit and an IT Leadership and Professional Development session track.

Two dozen sessions will be packed with advice, insight into IT trends, and discussion about strategies and techniques specifically for IT leaders, from the team leader to the CIO.

What you will detect is a fresh emphasis on soft skills, particularly managing people and the ability to communicate, not only with the IT team but with top executives, and business unit managers. Speakers will delve into how IT professionals can go beyond responding to trouble tickets and become an extension of the business unit, understanding how line workers need to get their jobs done. IT can't just be reactive any more, it must be a partner with business leaders.

You'll hear plenty of discussion about culture, including the culture of the IT organization, hiring the right people who fit into the culture, and how IT itself fits into the corporate culture. It's time to consider the new role of IT leaders. They are still part technologist, but it also deal makers, detectives finding stashes of data, visionaries looking ahead to the business world of the 2020s, budgeters, mediators of inter-departmental squabbles, trustees of company knowledge, and advocate for customers.

In this slideshow we offer a look at just a few of the presentations that might fill an IT leader's week at Interop, even if you never get to the rest of the 100-plus sessions in our other five tracks (infrastructure, cloud, DevOps, security, and data and analytics). Follow our slide show to learn more about some of the sessions by clicking the arrows above or below.


Jim Connolly is a versatile and experienced technology journalist who has reported on IT trends for more than two decades. As Executive Managing Editor of InformationWeek, he oversees the day-to-day planning and editing on the site. Most recently he has been editor of UBM's ... View Full Bio

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5/13/2017 | 8:14:14 AM
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4/12/2017 | 1:39:29 AM
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