With innovation being the buzzword echoing across boardrooms, it’s disturbing to hear that C-level executives aren’t certain if their IT Managers can drive innovation for their businesses.

Innovation and digital transformation is now being made someone else’s responsibility in the business hierarchy, judging by the proliferation of roles such as Chief Innovation Officer, Chief Digital Officer or Digital Transformation Manager. IT executives will need to make changes to what they are doing for a business to stay relevant.

We spoke to both C-level executives and IT managers across Australia as part of a research program to assess businesses’ preparedness for digital transformation. What we found was a disconnect in the expectations senior leadership teams have on their IT managers and how little IT managers were involved in driving innovation.

With digital transformation widely recognised as a core enabler of innovation, why are IT Managers who are entrusted with implementing and operating the technology platforms of enterprises, not involved in strategic conversations? We think this needs to change.

Stuck just keeping the lights on

Even though IT managers are expected to play a crucial role in supporting innovation in enterprises, just a quarter of their time is spent on innovation with close to half of IT managers (43 percent) spending their time just on operational activities. The most alarming fact is: just two percent of IT managers say they are involved in business-related, non-pure IT projects.

If nine out of 10 senior executives do not think their senior IT managers have a role to play in driving innovation for their businesses, this is going to leave IT managers performing transactional, day-to-day business IT requirements. 

IT managers in mid-sized organisations are most vulnerable as their annual budgets would likely stagnate when they need funding to invest in a better network infrastructure and on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Now is the time to close the gap between being just a pure operations manager and to gain traction on driving business strategy. IT Managers are in the box seat to make the leap but to do this, they must move out from being a day-to-day manager. New advances in technology and putting more responsibility on your technology partners is the key to success.

Get all these insights, and understand where you measure up against other Australian businesses by downloading our State of Transformation report.

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