Main image of article 7 Emerging Leadership Roles for Technology Professionals

Evolving technology has changed how business is done, along with the roles of senior technology leaders—and the skills they need to master.

According to Deloitte’s “2023 Global Technology Leadership Study,” senior tech leaders are now responsible for overseeing 13 or more vital and diverse areas, including business and strategy development and execution, innovation, security, risk and compliance, architecture, staff development and more.

They have more on their plates than anyone should be expected to handle. As a result, the responsibilities of tech leaders are becoming increasingly redistributed, explained Khalid Kark, Deloitte’s global CIO research director. Senior executives are starting to add new tech leadership roles to oversee the implementation and management of specific functions and areas.

To provide a sense of direction for tech pros with management aspirations, here’s a look at some of the technology leadership roles that may emerge over the next few years—and the skills and experience you’ll need to land one of these positions.

Customer Experience Leader

Currently, 15 percent of senior tech leaders say they own or co-own the customer experience for their organizations, while 63 percent refer to themselves as “strong enablers” in part because they provide data, tools and analysis that help create the customer experience.

But creating a great customer experience requires a customer-centric approach, as well as a deep understanding of customer needs, expectations and an up-and-coming field known as customer experience analytics.

Over the past seven years, Forrester has observed an increase in the number of companies that have a single executive leading customer experience efforts for a business unit or an entire company. You can meet the qualifications for this role by staying in IT and taking more ownership and responsibility for the customer experience, then rotating into a customer-facing role or becoming an expert in customer science and going down the customer leadership path.

Operational Excellence Leader

Currently, 18 percent of technology leaders say they spend the majority of their time, effort and energy on operational reliability and delivery. Enter the emerging role of operational excellence leader, who is responsible for building, operating and optimizing the tech infrastructure.

Given the importance of this position, think of it as a “CIO-in-training,” Kark says. The ideal background for this position is infrastructure engineer or anyone who uses their computer science knowledge to build, maintain and coordinate digital networks and systems.

Leader of Organizational Agility

McKinsey describes organizational agility as “the ability of an organization to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment.” During COVID-19, for instance, only organizations that were able to transition to remote work and fully digitize products and services managed to survive and thrive.

This multifaceted leader (or CTO-in-training) will be responsible for envisioning, designing, implementing and optimizing structures, talent and processes in ways that allow an organization to adapt quickly to capitalize on new opportunities. Examples might include implementing Agile teams and approaches, lean principles and so forth.

Having a background in enterprise or IT architecture can put you on the path to this leadership role, but you’ll also need a deep understanding of how your organization creates, delivers and captures value as well as the factors that influence agility.

Chief Data Monetization Leader

It’s no longer enough to simply oversee data management and analytics capabilities; senior tech leaders are now being asked to monetize data assets and insights (and generative A.I.-powered products and services) to create new revenue streams. They could definitely use a hand.

The role of chief data monetization leader is well suited for someone with a business or marketing analyst/business intelligence background but also the visionary skills, creativity and customer knowledge to envision ways to embed analytics into products or services, sell insights to third parties, enter new markets, enhance productivity, and more.

Digital Change Agent

Digital change agents are instrumental in helping their companies stay competitive by spreading digital literacy and leading enterprise-level transformation initiatives, such as implementation of ERP or a transition to a new operating model.

This is not a job for beginners, Kark warned. Aspiring agents need expert change management skills, especially the ability to influence without authority.

This job is well-suited for someone who has managed a project management office (PMO) or a major business unit, or a project manager who has played a central role in guiding the successful execution of strategic initiatives within the organization. It’s also helpful to bring an outside perspective and new ways of thinking to the role.

If you don’t have that type of experience, consider starting out as a change ambassador, then gradually scaling your experience across the enterprise.

Growth and Innovation Owner

Kark calls this the “most hybrid” of all the emerging roles, and one that requires the ability to synthesize information from multiple sources, visualize nascent opportunities for business growth, and consult business leaders proactively in order to capitalize on them.

“The crux of this position is proactively using technology to grow the business,” he said.

To qualify and succeed, you obviously need to know technology well, but you need to understand stakeholders even better.

Trust and Cyber Resiliency Leader

The role of cybersecurity leader is shifting to more of a business resilience and continuity leader.

Cybersecurity is about preventing attacks, protecting data, and data recovery, whereas “cyber resiliency refers to the ability of systems and organizations to withstand cyber events, adapt to changing conditions, and quickly recover from disruptions while continuing to deliver their intended objectives,” according to one breakdown.

Given that, this leader is responsible for driving cyber resilience and building trust with customers when using or storing their data by devising and executing a resiliency strategy, adopting “zero trust” policies, and so forth.

Technology leadership has become a team effort. Senior tech leaders are charting new career paths for themselves as well as the technology pros on their teams. By exploring these emerging roles, you can unlock all kinds of new opportunities.