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What the next generation of IT leaders needs to know

Thornton May, Columnist
The word leadership can be a highly charged, even emotional word for some IT professionals. Our research surfaced a lack of precision in the vocabulary used to discuss the potential and the shortcomings of upcoming IT leaders.

We saw some intriguing generational finger-pointing, as well. One of our initial e-mail survey questions asked: "Is the next generation of IT leaders more technically savvy?" Boomer CIOs,who are now in their late 40s to early 60s, immediately demanded clarification. By technically savvy, did we mean that younger IT managers understand:

  • How to use the technology?
  • How to fix the technology when it breaks?
  • How to design technology for the next set of user needs?
  • How to judge the costs of delivering a chunk of computational functionality via solution A vs. solution B, C or D?

What many do agree upon, however, is that IT leaders of the future will have to become alpha learners. That means they must be able to determine:

  • What they and their organizations need to know;
  • How to assess current knowledge levels about a wide range of business-related subjects, all of which are touched by technology in one way or another;
  • Where the points of ignorance exist;
  • Whom to turn to outside the organization to help fill those knowledge gaps; and
  • How to apply this knowledge and solve problems.

For the full CIO Habitat package, read "

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The Trouble with Next-Generation IT Leaders."

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