Tech leaders' new edge: Strategic and deeply human

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshotAlicia Raeburn
March 3rd, 2024
1 min read
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Today’s IT leaders are no longer just operators. They’re strategists
and deal-makers. According to a recent report on the state of today’s IT leader published by The Work Innovation Lab, a think tank by Asana, there’s been a dynamic shift in today’s IT environment away from traditional IT roles toward strategic partnership roles. IT leaders are actively embracing technology and innovation, shaping business strategies, and fostering a human-centric workplace culture, thereby positioning themselves as key partners in business outcomes.

A strategic evolution

It’s no secret that tech is evolving at hyper-speed. Just two years ago most people wouldn’t have known what AI was. Now, you can’t read a single article, business strategy, or earnings statement in the technology industry without mention of it. Within this dynamic, constantly shifting landscape, company leadership has had to lean on IT experts more and more for crucial decision-making and strategy formulation.

This trend shows up in the data—49% of IT leaders are advising in strategic planning more often than they were six months prior. Increasingly driven by a focus on revenue generation and cross-functional collaboration, IT leaders are now more engaged in advising on business objectives (as reported by 35% of respondents) and in influencing go-to-market strategies (32%).

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“Increasingly, CIOs are becoming less service-oriented and more product-oriented. A modern-day CIO is very different from the traditional CIO role. Now, it’s more about being a business leader than a technology leader.””
Saket Srivastava, CIO, Asana
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Source: The Work Innovation Lab State of the IT Leader report

Innovation beyond operational efficiency

Within their expanded role, IT leaders are proactively looking for new ways to leverage technology for strategic advantages. At least some of that commitment seems to be to AI and automation. According to our research, 35% of IT leaders listed AI as their most significant investment in 2023. 

This isn’t just a nod to modern trends; it’s a calculated move to position their organizations at the forefront of technological advancement. IT leaders are harnessing AI's potential to streamline processes, enhance data accessibility, and drive informed decision-making. This tech-forward approach, which emphasizes innovation alongside operational efficiency, marks a clear departure from traditional IT roles.

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Source: The Work Innovation Lab State of the IT Leader report

Leading people first

Another shift highlighted in the research is a new, more human-centric approach from IT leaders. Rather than focusing solely on technology, they’re placing value on improving the employee digital experience. This change is clear in the way they collaborate with other departments—64% of their collaborations are cross-functional. By fostering a workplace culture that prioritizes innovation and employee engagement, IT leaders are redefining their role, extending beyond technical expertise to also enhance workplace culture.

There’s a new IT leader, and they’re building businesses

The evolution of IT leaders is transforming the business world. Once seen as operational specialists, they're now emerging as influential strategists at the heart of business growth. This shift is more than a change in title—it's a fundamental redefinition of their role. These leaders are masterfully blending technological expertise with a focus on people and setting new standards for what leadership looks like in the digital era. In today's complex business landscape, their strategic integration is not just an added benefit, it's a cornerstone of sustainable growth and a beacon of innovation.

Dive into the full report

Learn more about the daily challenges and stressors IT teams are facing right now, and how top-performing leaders are addressing them, the way IT leaders are future-proofing their organizations, how these roles have shifted, and more.

Get the insights
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