The leadership of virtually every organization has transformed significantly in the past several decades, and this has been driven by the constant evolution of private and public sector landscapes, as well as that of the consumer. Not only do decision-makers need to have a wider range of modern skills and a better understanding of technologies, they also have to be able to navigate the ever-changing markets in which they compete.
Today's C-suite composition, arguably, has been a long time coming. Back in the spring of 2011, The New York Times argued that leaders would simply not be able to position their companies for success without an understanding of how to leverage data in the decision-making process. Funnily enough, the article purported that the concept of having too much information might not always be valid, and it has been refuted in real-world situations throughout the past couple of years.
Now, entrepreneurs might not find discussions of the C-suite all that relevant when they are just starting up and running their businesses solo, but these individuals will indeed need to understand how decision-making is transforming. This goes for the immediate future in which small-business owners will have to use data analytics for leadership purposes, as well as down the road during expansions when more managers, supervisors and potentially even executives step up to the plate.
If you want a rundown of how data science is transforming the decision-making process and best practices therein, check out this video from With The Economist:
Analytics come with the promise of improving the accuracy and timeliness of decision-making - there is no question about that. However, there are several steps that need to be taken in the technology arena before companies will be able to truly leverage these advanced intelligence solutions. A new report indicated that the individuals who act as chief information officers in larger enterprises - or the equivalent positions in other firms - are being viewed differently by other decision-makers than in the past.
The new era of leadership
International Data Corporation recently reported that roughly 40 percent of financial, business and other leaders in the C-suite consider their CIOs to be the heads of innovation just as much as they are responsible for information and digital systems. Considering the fact that the CIO is still a relatively new position for many companies, it should not be that surprising that the responsibilities and expectations associated with the status are continuing to transform as time goes on.
The big takeaway from this report is that the leaders who step into CIO and similar positions in their organizations will need to take a more creative and innovative approach to their responsibilities to be truly effective in the future. IDC attributes the importance of these characteristics in modern business to the widespread measures being undertaken by most firms to digitize their core operational processes and management frameworks across the board.
"CIOs who stay operational will find themselves further marginalized over the next three years," IDC Vice President of Research for Enterprise Mobility Mike Jennett explained. "For these executives to stay relevant, they must shift their focus to transformation and innovation and incorporating those innovations into their stable infrastructures. 'Just keeping the lights on' will lead the business to find other sources for technology leadership and innovation."
With respect to the ways in which CIOs are now viewing their own stature in business, the researchers found that about one-quarter are taking a hard line on innovation, while one-third are positioning themselves to focus on service management. A little more than 40 percent think that their responsibilities are more centrally rooted in operations. IDC believes this will decisively turn in favor of innovation in the near future, mostly out of necessity.
"Our research notes a fundamental shift in the role of CIOs as seen by themselves and the business because of the 3rd Platform and digital transformation," Jennett explained. "While many CIOs have embraced this change, there is still a large percentage that will benefit from evaluating their organizations as well as their relationship with their business counterparts as they continue on this journey."
"Small-business owners must embrace modern decision-making."
Implications for small business
Again, entrepreneurs will not always have to worry about the delegation of responsibilities in a C-suite given the fact that smaller firms tend to have much different leadership arrangements than larger, more established organizations. Still, the time is now for small-business owners to begin stepping up to the challenges of modern technology-related decision-making, as so much is riding on IT across operations today and more is sure to move in this direction soon.
Should the company be in the startup phase, with only a couple of operations managers and the small-business owner acting as the sole decision-maker for major matters, that individual will need to become comfortable with analytics and other modern tools. In these situations, the entrepreneur will always need to keep an open mind to maintain a level of innovation within the leadership process, especially when it comes to establishing new means of capitalizing on novel technologies.
As the company scales up, bringing a technology-centric leader into the decision-making process will be critical, and should be a relatively high priority given the sheer volume of investments going into IT services, solutions and gadgets today. Should the small business fail to continue innovating over time, both internally with process management matters and practices and outside with customer-facing matters, it will struggle to maintain pace with competitors in its field, as well as general relevance.
At the end of the day, small-business owners who are concerned about their ability to innovate and accurately navigate the technology decision-making process should consider leveraging the support of a trusted, reliable managed service provider. This can act as a quick measure to get the knowledge necessary for more optimal operational management and enablement into the company's game plan, all the while saving entrepreneurs costs associated with executive recruitment, onboarding and salary.