Author: Dom Callandriello
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The role of the IT leader has evolved over the years from purchasing and troubleshooting to becoming a trusted advisor to the executive suite and tech leader for the business. 

Our 2022 Tech Summit Panel “The Evolution from IT Person to Tech Leader” brought together industry leaders to discuss some of these changes.  

Our speakers for the panel were:  

  • Brian Eichman, Vice President of Business Development & Solution Architecture at CoreSite 
  • Jason Carolan, Chief Innovation Officer at Flexential  
  • Mike Berlin, Director of the West Channel Team at Five9 
  • Chad Frazier, Solutions Architect at NETRIO 

Read on to learn more about what the experts have to say about the evolving role of IT leaders and you can check out the full video above.

What Has Changed for IT Leaders?  

The role of IT leaders has changed drastically over the past 10 years, and the pandemic has accelerated that change.

Foundry’s State of the CIO 2022 found that 74% of tech leaders say that the CIO role was elevated due to the pandemic, and that the increased visibility of IT within the organization is expected to continue.  

So what has changed?  

Brian Eichman of CoreSite noted that IT leaders can’t continue functioning simply as a utility that “keeps the lights on”. Today’s tech leaders are expected to have a seat at the table and advise the C-suite on how IT will help advance business objectives.  

Jason Carolan of Flexential notes that the pandemic quickly advanced many organizations’ move to network enabled services. “Everything we did became online, and now there is really no conversation that doesn’t include service resiliency, availability, high availability, distributed architectures… whatever it might be to really change the game and make sure that nothing goes down.”  

IT leaders are essential for laying the foundations for businesses to run in remote and hybrid environments, and the demand for increased flexibility, security, and network stability are only increasing.  

With so many tech demands, tech deals are becoming more complex and “sticky” to navigate.  

Interestingly, Mike Berlin of Five9 shared that stakeholders are often lured by the promise of new and emerging tech, without stopping to consider its utility. He pointed to the example of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). These emerging technologies are promised in many tech demos, but what do they actually add? How can IT leaders think about work process and workflow automations? How does that affect the backend?  


The Role for Tech Leaders: Today and Tomorrow  

What does it really mean to be a tech leader in 2022 and beyond?  

Many of our panelists compared the role of IT leaders today to that of a translator. The CIO acts as a central point of communication that translates tech to value for stakeholders. Every member of the C-suite has different business goals, and IT success comes from overcoming business language barriers and using plain language to show C-suite executives how their strategy aligns with their goals.

By translating tech investments into tangible value, these leaders become trusted advisors and are included in critical business conversations.  

Brian Eichman of CoreSite added that “It’s okay to challenge their status quo. It’s not easy to change. They are going to want to continue to do things the way they’ve always done them. And after you’ve built that relationship, which you guys are the maestros at, you get a little bit more flexibility with them, you get more leash that you can lean in and challenge them to disrupt the status quo within the organization, and get them to be entrepreneurial. That is a word that never flows into IT. Nobody ever thinks IT is entrepreneurial, but that is exactly what you were trying to foster within an organization is that entrepreneurial tech leader.” 

The panel agreed that today’s tech leaders are thinking big and getting results. A big part of this evolution of IT leadership is to constantly be creating value and generating revenue.  

Jason Carolan of Flexential shared this old joke with the panel: “A CIO got on a plane, read an article, and now everything’s been shifted to Azure.”  

While these shifts may not b be happening at that same scale, part of the job of a CIO is to implement solutions that maintain the integrity of the systems already in place and provide flexibility for future improvement.  

Priorities are also shifting in terms of how businesses invest in tech. Chad Frazier of NETRIO identified cybersecurity as the number one tech investment.

He discussed how as more systems are run remotely, the attack surface increases and cybersecurity becomes more critical. Educating users in security awareness and raising endpoint protection is a top priority.

IT Leaders Are Now Responsible for Business Results  

A substantial shift that the panelists explored was that IT is no longer just a line expense. Tech leaders are expected to generate revenue. The State of the CIO Study 2022 reported that  65% of IT leaders said that some form of revenue-generation initiative is now part of their job.  

Mike Berlin of Five9 articulated just how important the consolidation of suppliers is in providing cost-savings and generating revenue for businesses. Working with many disparate suppliers costs time and money, wherein consolidation simplifies execution of delivery.  

Working with a tech advisory firm like Bridgepointe can help identify opportunities for consolidation in addition to finding the right tech fits for your needs.  

There used to be a joke that said that CIO stood for “Career is Over” but it’s never been more clear that CIOs and tech leaders are critical team members. Bridgepointe helps them bridge between tech investments and business goals.  


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