Career Pathing POD
Erin Geiger, Director of Content at Lumos

The Future of IT in 2023: A Seat at the C-Suite Table or Jumping Ship?

IT 2023. It almost sounds like a sci-fi flick coming soon to a theatre near you. It’s what’s on most CIO’s minds, though, as digital transformation takes hold as a common thread throughout the company...and IT being the top billing star.

Your IT team is no doubt responsible for valuable innovations impacting multiple teams and is integral in critical decisions that impact company growth. The thought of IT being a ‘cost center’ rather than a revenue stream and valued business partner is starting to feel as irrelevant as billionaires joyriding in space.

The Climb to IT Business Partner Has Peaks and Valleys

Many studies on IT departments and decision makers done in 2022 found many IT leaders to be frustrated with their companies and career growth. For example, a survey done by ManageEngine of over 3,000 IT decision makers found that over 80% felt that their companies did not support them as well as they should have over the last two years, and “although IT departments were heralded as tech champions of the pandemic, their empowerment and autonomy for business decision-making has fallen short due to C-Suite limitations.”

Another survey, this one completed by Lattice, found that 43% of respondents felt that their career paths had slowed dramatically or even stalled completely. This was found to be especially true for younger employees; 38% of Gen Z workers indicated that they are focusing their career searches on jobs with greater transparency around job path and development opportunities. 

80% felt that their companies did not support them as well as they should have over the last two years.

While IT team members are feeling frustrated with their jobs and growth opportunities, 88% of North American business and tech leaders believe IT is “more responsible for business innovation than ever.” The study also found that 85% of respondents believe that IT would have the potential to drive even greater innovation if it had a stronger leadership position.

Ultimately, IT leaders understand that a well developed IT strategy has great opportunity to impact companies and bottom lines, but without the correct support, they are unable to share this information with company leaders in a way that will make an impact.

The Solution? Embrace IT or Wave Goodbye - Listen or Lose 'Em

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for supporting IT leaders and decision makers as they drive business innovation in the new year, there are some things you must be doing in order to keep your IT professionals on board. 

A survey by Skillsoft gathered responses from almost 8,000 IT decision makers and team members and found that over half of them responded as “extremely likely” or “somewhat likely” to look for a new job in the new year. And, in the ManageEngine survey, they found that nearly 60% of enterprise IT managers are currently job hunting. This mass exit from current positions is highly due to dissatisfaction with the amount of C-level support these IT leaders and their teams receive. 

Almost half of the Skillsoft respondents said that they would resign from their current positions if there was no potential for career advancement or if flexible work was no longer offered. 

There is good news, however. Almost 60% of IT departments reported that they expect their budgets to increase in 2023 with the top areas of investment including skill enhancement in cloud computing, IT security, and AI and machine learning. This is encouraging as the key to addressing IT leaders’ dissatisfaction is for executives to listen to their feedback and respond to simple needs such as supplying opportunities to learn and grow in their current positions. 

Overall, IT decision makers are eager for an opportunity to learn. Nearly half of survey respondents answered that they want to learn new skills and 41% said that they want to be able to guide change within their organizations when asked what they want most from their roles in the next five years. 

When it comes to opportunities to engage in large company matters, in the US and Canada, IT teams reported that they are most often consulted for advice in finance, security, and strategy decisions. In fact, three-quarters of respondents said their IT teams have total or considerable authority to prevent business decisions from taking place based on technical and/or security concerns. This is a positive sign that companies are beginning to see IT as a critical piece of their success. 

41% said that they want to be able to guide change within their organizations when asked what they want most from their roles in the next five years.

If IT employees continue to feel unsupported in their roles, they are going to jump ship to new companies and new positions. It’s time for IT to have a seat at the C-suite table. Here are some easy steps you can take based on the data gathered by the two surveys above to evolve the role of IT within our organization:

1. Clearly layout and discuss career growth opportunities. If your company doesn’t have a clear growth path or promotion schedule that your employees all know about, it’s time to create one! This might include clearly outlined positions and raise opportunities that your IT team members and other employees can reference whenever they are interested in exploring their future options.

2. Supply opportunities for employees to learn and expand their skill sets. Whether you invest in an online training program or simply host an IT lunch and learn every Thursday, supplying your IT team members with personal and technical resources that stand as opportunities to learn more, expand their skill sets, and discover new areas of passion in IT can pay off greatly for your company. When your employees feel like they are being challenged and that you care about their education they are more likely to stick around. 

3. Listen to what IT team members have to say. As IT becomes less of a cost center and more of a revenue hub for your business, it’s important that you listen to the experts and leaders on the topic when making key business decisions. Some areas where you might consider seeking advice from your company’s IT decision makers include security, budget allocations, and procurement.

Making Your IT Your Business Partner

IT is evolving, including the role of IT decision makers. The democratization of IT is leading companies to shift how they think about IT and how they approach managing critical business decisions. Respecting IT as a legit partner in growing the business is paramount when building a sustainable organization, especially in this economy.

Interested in hearing more about the evolution of IT and how IT leaders are evolving? Check out our video series, IT Heroes, to hear it straight from your colleagues.