Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Science and Art of Business Leadership

Business leadership is both science and art. The scientific aspects revolve around finance, organization, products and service. Artistic aspects include relationships, market trajectories and business strategies. While many focus on the science through books and training, the art of business is best learned from real practitioners.  That is why I jumped at the chance to meet Dimension Data’s Steve Nola during the company’s analyst event, Perspectives 2015, in Prague, Czech Republic. Steve is the company’s ITaaS Group Executive and prior to this, served separate stints as Chief Executive Officer of the Cloud Business Unit and Dimension Data Australia region. Meeting over dinner, Steve shared his views on how businesses should deal with today’s dynamic information technology environment.

 In his opinion, cloud computing is destined to harness more of the IT market and organizations that participate in just about any industry must decide what they are going to do about it. 

“Cloud a key change agent for business and the critical skill in this environment is managing the rate of change within your enterprise”, says Steve. “This is crucial because change drives innovation and innovation fuels the internal experimentation needed to maintain marketplace relevancy.”

Businesses must also build and maintain an effective partner ecosystem. This actually reduces business risks as IT transitions to the “as-a-service” model. IT professionals must build and maintain a fluency in bridging technology to business outcomes. Companies must also use cloud services in order to tailor technology’s contribution to the chosen business strategy.

While virtualization is a necessary component of any IT modernization strategy, virtualization without optimization for cloud may preclude the necessary alignment of IT with today’s dynamic business models. This wise counsel highlights why business science and business art must be
synergistic. It also puts a spotlight on why a corporate IT ecosystem is also needed. Modern business models are created, launched, modified and retired quickly. In some industries such a cycle could transpire over a timeframe measured in hours. A traditional corporately owned IT platform is unable to economically deal with such a fast pace of change. This is why traditional IT support models in some verticals are rapidly giving way to shared IT infrastructures and IT as a service. Traditional architectures aren’t designed with an ability to cycle up and down. They are also not typically metered and monitored. Companies facing this type of industry disruption need trusted IT service partners. According to Steve, enterprise IT product vendors are being disintermediated by this transition to the IT service provider model. “2009 saw a $142B decrease in enterprise IT product industry revenue. That money went to the IT as a service market” 

Dimension Data itself is not immune to these forces. As a global IT service provider, it too needs to have a strong and reliable partner ecosystem. The importance of partners to Dimension Data has been made obvious by winning 23 channel partner awards at the most recent Cisco Partner Summit and Deloitte’s selection of its Managed Cloud Platform for the management firm’s business transformation clients.
The key takeaway from this discussion is that successful IT leaders effectively leverage both business science and business art as day to day leadership tools.

( This content is being syndicated through multiple channels. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of GovCloud Network, GovCloud Network Partners or any other corporation or organization.)

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