Should Developers Have a Role at the Executive Table

In CIO/IT by Daniel Newman1 Comment

It’s often difficult to grasp today’s rapidly changing business landscape. But if there’s something we can be sure of, it’s the ongoing digital transformation of businesses. Right now, every business on the planet is contemplating their digital experience. Technology in the form of apps, APIs, mobile, cloud, and data are bringing big changes to all aspects of business. This includes supply chain, manufacturing, customer service, and virtually everything else. Take a deeper look and you’ll find that the digital “dreams” of today’s enterprises are woven almost entirely with software. It’s the software that’s driving change, enabling innovations in products and services, helping companies offer better consumer experience, and more. But does software development get the importance it deserves, especially among the C-suite? Not really.

Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Software Development

Despite its mission-critical nature, software is rarely considered a C-suite topic. Mostly, software-related issues are handed down to lower-level employees, managing teams of developers. This mentality can block the growth streams of any organization using technology, let alone one that aspires to transform digitally.

For an increasing number of companies, technology is the tool that solves all their business problems, and managing technology is becoming more complex and challenging than ever before. However, according to a recent Fortune study of CEOs, technology is also the number one issue keeping CEOs awake at night. A part of this can be attributed to the fact that most organization do not have a proper software strategy in place. In an era where technology is fast moving from hardware-based to software-based, it’s imperative to build a solid strategy around software needs.

Software is the Future of Business

To adjust to the changing business environments, companies need to be agile and flexible. Hardware and legacy systems are not only incompatible with trends like mobility, BYOD, and remote work, but they are expensive as well. In a world of limited resources, we expect businesses to do more with less. Software-enabled solutions, like cloud, are catching on for their ability to allow businesses to produce greater output at reduced costs. They help businesses manage everything—from accounting to business productivity, to sales to HR—and anything else that comes in between. All this without dedicated infrastructure, resources, and expenses. Then there’s software-led innovations, like smartphones and wearables, which are opening a new world of consumer interaction and workplace collaboration.

With value shifting to software, software development is now a key factor for business success. Recently, Business Insider reported a new global survey by CA Technologies. It found that 78 percent of senior business and IT executives consider software-driven businesses to have greater competitive edge in the coming years.

General Electric CEO, Jeffrey R. Immelt in Report, pointed out where the future of business is headed, “We believe that every industrial company will become a software company.”

Raising Software Development to the C-Suite Level

For a long time, companies have had CIOs and CTOs at the executive table. But most of the time, they are responsible for decoding the strategic vision, and taking it back to the technical teams, to build or deploy the technology needed to move the company forward. With their knowledge of how companies can speed up their production at reduced cost using software, developers may have a fresh new perspective on what needs to be done for business.

However, in order for businesses to take advantage of this, developers need to have a seat at the table (even if the developers are outsourced from a company’s MSP or IT Service Provider). They cannot be five to six steps removed from the C-suite conversations. I believe developers can offer better insights on how to use tech to solve business problems but the big limitation may in fact, be reducing their involvement and participation in the process. This is why it’s important to have senior software leaders in the top-management roles.

For software to be useful, IT needs to stop working as a silo and instead be closely tied with business goals. Lately, the C-suite has gone through a lot of transformations. Many organizations are including new roles such as the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) or Chief Customer Officer (CCO) in their stack of top executive offices. Adding a “Chief Software Development Officer” might help companies prepare themselves for a future where software-driven companies will rule the business landscape.

Additional Resources on this Topic:

IT Pros and Working Toward The Frictionless Enterprise
What Is Un-Enterprisey Software Development?
Who’s Missing from Your C-suite?

This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s PivotPoint. Dedicated to providing valuable insight from industry thought leaders, PivotPoint offers expertise to help you develop, differentiate and scale your business.

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