The Role of an IT Manager

I’ve been in my role as a senior manager responsible for Information Technology for 3 years now, and I sometimes start to wonder how it all comes to get.  The role of a senior manager responsible for Information Technology-related matters has changed over the last fifty years or so. If you look at In the 1960s and 70s, mainframes were the major Information Technology technology, and the role of the senior Information Technology person was to ensure that these systems delivered support to the organization in the form of automated manual systems.

As micro processes became commonplace, the role of the senior Information Technology person changed to incorporate a facilitation  role, ensuring that various pieces of equipment could operate together by developing and managing an Information Technology architecture in an overall plan of how the technology was configured for the organization.

When the Internet and especially the World Wide Web started empowering business organizations, the role of the IT manager changed yet again. The role became one to of providing opportunities to the business to expand. Mostly in a strategic advisory role that meant more visibility for Information Technology.

It is now very common for the senior Information Technology manager to be a member of the executive management team. As a senior manager, the role has many responsibilities. However, from the perspective of planning, the following general aspects of the CIO/ senior Information Technology manager role can be identified:

1. Managing the organization’s Information Technology – in an organization of any size or type, there will be considerable investment in both people and equipment, and many new initiatives will require project-based teams to be staffed and managed.

2. The protection and management of the organization’s intellectual property –  Securing it from both external and internal threats. As well as providing systems that allows the staff to easily manage their knowledge capital, for example document management systems

3. Providing a vision for the future – as part of the executive management team, the CIO has the responsibility to keep colleagues informed of the potential offered by Information Technology developments.

4. Financial management of the Information Technology investment. The amount of organization funds committed to Information Technology can be considerable, and this needs careful management.

Until recently, the prime qualification for a CIO was a technical one, and certainly technical knowledge is important to the position. However, it is evident that a knowledge of overall business functions is equally important, and CIO’s are now required to have a broader view of the organization than one solely based in technology.  In the end I still I find it hard to tell the CEO when he calls me to fix his desktop issues that I’ve got more important things to do. In the end you still need to give the impression that all the technology is under control.

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