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IT's Blind Spots: Understanding the Departments That Make or Break a Business

rebecca hindsRebecca Hinds
January 2nd, 2024
1 min read
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CIOs, CTOs, and other IT leaders have barely been able to catch their breath over the past three years. But despite ongoing challenges, many leaders finally have a chance to pause. And as they slow down, they’ve noticed—something is broken.

Recent research from The Work Innovation Lab, in partnership with Firstbase, the leading provider of flexible work equipment management for remote and hybrid workers, and Sierra Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm investing in the future of enterprise technology, focuses on the challenges IT leaders are facing and how, in the face of these changes, the role is evolving.

Through this research—which involved a survey of more than 500 IT professionals and interviews with IT leaders—we found that:

  1. Cross-functional collaboration is helping IT leaders drive revenue growth. About two-thirds (64%) of all internal collaboration by IT teams is cross-functional. Only HR and Legal have higher cross-functional collaboration.

  2. IT leadership is central to business strategy. Our research showed that almost half of IT leaders are being asked to advise on strategic planning more often today than six months ago.

  3. Proper tooling, automation, and AI usage are key efficiency drivers for IT leaders. Our respondents were more likely to list AI or automation as their biggest bet (the investment they expected to most positively impact their company) in 2023 than anything else.

  4. Enhancing digital employee experience is a top priority for leaders right now. We found that companies that hit or exceeded their IT-related objectives in 2022 were more likely to view investing in the digital employee experience as important or very important.

  5. Experimentation is thriving. Top IT leaders are not afraid to fail. If anything, they’re afraid not to—most senior IT executives said they regretted not experimenting more.

While IT professionals are working more cross-functionally than ever before, it’s not seamless. More than half of senior executive IT leaders we surveyed felt stress at least weekly from working cross-functionally. 

This stress could stem in part from misunderstandings. Specifically, IT professionals are struggling to understand the business priorities of legal, finance, and HR the most. 

Yet cross-functional collaboration with these teams is critical for driving business outcomes. IT teams need to collaborate with legal teams to understand and tackle cybersecurity threats. With finance teams, they need to be able to align on budgets and discuss how to stay lean in challenging macro environments. And they need to collaborate with HR to enhance the digital employee experience.

All things considered, our research showed that being an IT leader in today’s ever-changing business landscape comes with many challenges. Yet the role is more important to companies than ever before, and IT leaders at top-performing companies are providing incomparable value to their entire organization.

Learn more about what research shows are the specific challenges facing IT leaders today—and what the best ones do differently— in The Work Innovation Lab’s upcoming State of IT Leader report, which will go live in June, 2023.

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