IT leaders must be hands-off helicopter parents

CIO panel agrees: Employees want IT to do everything, but they don't want to see it

Tom Allen
clock • 3 min read
IT leaders must be hands-off helicopter parents

Modern IT teams can no longer restrict themselves to just managing technology; they're part of every business process from finance to HR.

So said panellists at Computing's IT Heroes Roadshow in Birmingham this week, produced in partnership with Intel and Softcat.

Many IT leaders have enjoyed their increased influence post-pandemic. Senior executives are more likely to view the department as a centre for revenue, not costs - but with that has also brought more reliance on tech teams to solve business problems.

That goes beyond business inefficiencies; it's to the point where tech is used to attract new starters.

Nick Ioannou of Goodlord said he felt like "part of the HR team."

Jeff Kilford, client category director at Intel, said one of IT's responsibilities today is to "deliver these amazing experiences to attract people into the organisation," which makes especial sense in the context of hybrid working. Demand for a seamless experience, replicating what we get on personal devices, has never been higher.

IT leaders also need to keep doing what they were doing pre-pandemic, helping staff work "in ways where they don't feel the protective layers we're putting around them to protect their identity and their privacy - and then we're also protecting the IP of the company."

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The hands-off helicopter parent

The effect is piling more pressure on senior IT figures, of a different type than the technical demands they're familiar with.

Kelly Calver, Softcat's workspace services senior team leader, described it as: "'Protect me - but I don't want to see it. Help me innovate - but don't make me work too hard. Give me access to everything everywhere - but please don't call me after 5pm.‘"

She added, "You do have those added pressures, and the poor IT director is the harried parent, trying to keep everyone wrapped in cotton wool but give them every possible opportunity they have."

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