It’s the Technology, Stupid!

Just as the words of President Clinton still echo their fundamental truth in our country’s politics, I submit a new rallying cry to corporate America: “It’s the Technology, Stupid!”

Consider this: In January of this year, Hugo Sarrazin and Andy West wrote in McKinsey Quarterly an insightful paper on “Understanding the strategic value of IT in M&A.” (You can get the paper here: ).

In it they wisely point out that many mergers fail to live up to expectations because of poor integration planning. And the key component of that plan is IT. Unfortunately, it is even worse than that.

The M&A issues that the paper identifies mask an even deeper problem: Poor integration of IT thinking inside the C-suite, and by extension, throughout the company. You would think that this is a thing of the past, especially now with CIOs, CTOs, CDOs, and all sorts of C-x-O’s roaming around board rooms. But the reality is different.

Our work has exposed us to an ugly truth: Although many CEOs pay lip service to the importance of IT in their strategic thinking, and may even assert as proof their shinny C-level IT executive, their day to day actions betray their ignorance on most things digital. All too frequently they are seduced by a revenue muse here, an acquisition there, or be immersed into their most recent “critical” project du jour, totally ignoring both strategic and operational IT implications. Unfortunately, these implications are ignored at the CEO’s (and ultimately the company’s) peril.

This is more than a matter of IT literacy at the C-suite (That will be a topic of a whole other blog entry, Don’t get me started!) This is about integrating technology thinking directly into the company’s leadership DNA. We can no longer point the finger to the C-technologist as the one responsible for this. She is not! Time to wake up and smell the silicon!

The responsibility starts with the CEO, and flows downhill from there. He or she must accept responsibility for their own IT literacy and not be afraid to let their strategy, management, and operational skills be placed under an IT lens. They should welcome this. Invite it. When done right, the results are astonishing.

Examples abound: Think about the transformative power of mobile technologies. How well is that thinking integrated into the C-suite? How about tablets and new media? Or, the opportunities to re-shape the company through cloud computing and shared workspaces?

Do these things sound foreign and scary? Then, you have a problem! And, isn’t your strength as a leader to solve problems? For that matter, isn’t it your responsibility to solve these problems?

I’m glad we agree!

Now, you can take the first step by truly spending the time with your C-tech, get to know each other, and get to move past understanding of each other’s worlds. It’s time to merge them into one.

The opportunity is too big to waste. And the penalty is too steep to pay.

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