Despite the fact that 97 percent of middle market executives depend on technology for organizational success, 83 percent admit to either not having an IT leader in place or not having an IT leader who is focused on strategy, according to a survey of 52 senior management executives conducted by Hartman Executive Advisors.
Only 8 percent cited technology strategy as an area of expert knowledge, with a full 29 percent admitting to requiring assistance or identifying that they are not at all comfortable with technology strategy.
"While we weren’t surprised by some of the data, we were overwhelmed by the extreme nature of the findings," Dave Hartman, president and co-founder of Hartman Executive Advisors, told eWEEK. "While nearly all surveyed executives--97 percent--reported a reliance on technology for organizational success, 8 out of 10 of them lacked strategic IT leadership within their organizations. That’s a huge disparity--and one that leads to missed opportunity as well as risk for mid-market organizations."
Hartman explained the lack of business-focused IT leadership often means that IT is reactionary and tactical, noting 94 percent of executives surveyed recognize that technology plays a role in addressing their top business challenges.
"However, without strategic IT leadership, these opportunities are often missed or underutilized," Hartman said. "Executives’ message was loud and clear--financial issues are the most top-of-mind challenges they face."
According to the survey, three-quarters of senior executives said they feel that IT leaders should be more involved in the organization’s strategic business discussions, but only 17 percent indicate that their senior IT leader is a member of the executive leadership team that already contributes to these decisions.
Furthering this concern, only 8 percent of senior executives feel they are experts in making technology strategy decisions, while 29 percent admit to either needing assistance or having zero confidence in this area.
The survey also highlighted financial issues as the top challenge facing middle market executives, with 94 percent of executives stating that technology should play a role in addressing that top challenge.
"Our findings suggest that many CEOs and business executives are often intimidated by technology, and therefore either ignore it or relegate it to a more tactical focus," Hartman said. "If CEOs want to better integrate technology into their strategic business planning efforts, they need to treat their IT resources like any other business asset in their portfolio."
Hartman explained that if we were talking about a strategic real estate portfolio, or any other capital asset portfolio, the CEO or CFO would set strategic objectives for investing in that portfolio, create metrics for determining whether the investment was meeting objectives, and hire a strategic "portfolio manager" who could help maximize the investment.
"IT should be viewed and managed similarly – and should be expected to create a solid ROI, not just be a cost center," he said.