f you are a CIO (Chief Information Officer) or CTO (Chief Technical Officer) in business today then you are in a most fortunate position. A position that has the ability to create impact across the entire business. This role has changed so much in the last 15 years, that only the most adaptable and forward-thinking individuals are able to fulfill this role successfully. Many will fall by the wayside as the ever increasing demands of the evolving workplace are translated into a need that must be fulfilled by an information technology solution. The rest of the business looks towards the IT department to not only solve business issues but also bring competitive advantage into the business.

This evolution of the role of the technology leader has largely been driven by the rapid pace of development of cloud technology services. The ease with which one can access these services, try them out, conduct a POC, and then deploy them, results in an increase in the number of options for solutions to business problems, the speed that they can be tested and deployed, and the number of possibilities for innovative solutions.

IT is no longer about the infrastructure that supports individuals to get their job done, the servers, desktop PCs, and laptops. It is no longer about the systems that keep track of sales and profit margins. It is no longer about the storage of data for analysis at some stage. Of course, all of these aspects need to be there, but they are just the starting point, as the cloud building blocks of solutions grows.

IT today is about every function of the business. It is about the customer. From the mechanism of introducing the customer to the company’s products, taking them on a journey, fulfillment, and then encouraging them to be a repeat client. IT is about your employees. From providing them with the tools they need to understand what they are selling, how to function within the company, how to apply for leave, and, of course, how to complete the role that they are paid to do. It is about turning data into information and then turning that into knowledge, utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence.

It is about simplifying the complex so that people can do what they need to do in the most efficient way possible. It is about creating competitive advantage. Putting the business ahead, and creating the space to innovate further. With this in mind, the successful IT leader of today needs to be a visionary, a creator, an autodidact, a change manager, a financial manager, and most importantly, a realistic optimist. This article examines why these six traits are key to career success for the IT leader.