4 ways running IT is like directing a Hollywood movie

Paul Rubens

This is similar to the way that well-known actors and actresses make a living, he points out. "When actors are working they are paid well, so we should expect to pay higher wages to IT staff for short periods of engagement when they are actually creating."

(It is already the case that many IT contractors are only paid when they are actually working, but McClure says that the skills of programmers and many other contractors are typically treated as a commodity and therefore attract only relatively low rates of pay.)

3. Emergence of IT producers or directors

McClure says that every IT project will need the equivalent of a movie director or producer – someone who is an expert in getting the right team and equipment in place and having a vision of how to proceed so that the project can be carried out successfully.

4. Improved language and tools

Here McClure uses the analogy of a choreographer working with a new troupe of dancers. He says that although the choreographer may not have worked with any of the dancers before, a shared vocabulary and dance taxonomy allows everyone to understand what is required of them.

So, by the same token, an IT project producer or director and creative IT workers will need a new shared vocabulary and taxonomy in order to be able to communicate and tools that enable them to work productively together easily from the moment a project starts.

An obvious question leading on from this is who the producer or director should be? The answer, McClure believes, is a Digital Strategy Officer (DSO) whose role sits somewhere between the CIO and the CMO.

"CIOs and CMOs are often deeply rooted in their silos, whereas a DSO is holistic, disruptive and goes between silos," he says. "Generally the CMO and the CIO are not inclined or oriented to do that, so a DSO brings new DNA to the mix."

But he adds that CIOs that feel that they are misfits in their current jobs could be better suited to this DSO role. "If they are forward thinking enough and take holistic views of things then they could certainly make the migration to DSO successfully," says McClure.

What specific skills does a DSO need? The answer is quite surprising: part entrepreneurial skills, part the skills of a revival preacher, and part the skills of a choreographer, according to McClure.

A DSO needs entrepreneurial skills to spot opportunities and put together the right team to exploit it, McClure explains. "That means you need someone who understands technology, certainly, but also legal, regulatory and change management matters. You also need someone who can motivate sales people – and all this is the classic model of an entrepreneur."

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