The changing role of the IT leader

The skills and knowledge required by leaders change frequently, reflecting a huge number of different factors, from technology to people to politics. These changes have been keenly felt by IT leaders, as businesses focus more on innovation and become increasingly reliant on technology.

These shifts have seen IT leaders entirely refocus their priorities, often from primarily operational positions to being more and more strategy-led. No longer are IT departments just there to make sure websites, CRMs and email servers are working properly. Now IT is focussed on digital transformation to make sure the whole company is working in harmony. IT ensures data is secure, but accessible by those who need it, allowing the whole business the right tools for innovation and success.


Arguably IT roles – particularly the Chief Information Officer (CIO) – are more influential than ever before. Individuals in these positions are increasingly responsible for innovation and revenue generation. In order to fulfil these new expectations, they need to become more involved and more influential in the wider business, with an in-depth understanding of operations, planning and business functions in order to comprehend the impact of innovation on aspects like organisational change and strategy development.


These new responsibilities all require vision and impeccable communication skills. Technical expertise alone is no longer enough for IT leaders. They need to be able to explain new concepts and innovations to those without the technical understanding, with long term strategy and bottom line growth in mind.

Marketing teams commonly work on an outsourcing model, plugging gaps in their team’s knowledge and allowing for project flexibility. As technology keeps pushing forward at a rapid pace, CIOs are starting to embrace a similar model. By reinforcing internal teams with external suppliers, IT departments can accomplish things they may not have the expertise or time to fulfil in house.

Continual learning

With such rapid changes in technology and innovation, CIOs and those with aspirations to become IT leaders need to keep their skills constantly refreshed. Deloitte’s CIO report found that tech leaders are committed to ongoing learning – a trend that’s expected to continue over the next few years. Not only that, but the vast majority of them (96%) consider educating the business about technology issues to be one of their responsibilities.

To support continual learning, the University of York have introduced a 100% online MSc Innovation, Leadership and Management. Aimed at ambitious career climbers, it teaches the skills and knowledge required to help individuals to succeed in IT leadership and CIO roles. It covers topics such as innovation management, leading change and business operations: all important elements of the modern day IT leader role.

As all course materials are delivered online, there’s no need to take a career break, so you can study whenever it suits you. Flexibility is built in with six start dates per year and pay-per-module options, allowing you to study for a prestigious Russell Group university degree around family and work commitments.

Find out more and begin your application.