Headlines about IT nightmares affecting large companies are more common than ever, leaving CEOs and business leaders asking the same question: “What happened?” For many CEOs, their IT infrastructure is a murky and complicated environment understood only by a handful of people. Unfortunately, IT departments are generally uninvolved and excluded in major business decisions, consulted only after an issue occurs.

Successful CEOs know that this lack of IT management and investment in their company’s technology is no longer sustainable. Rather than relegate the majority of IT decisions and knowledge to a small team, successful leaders recognize that technology affects more of their business than ever before. Utilized strategically, technology will benefit every sector of the organization.

The idea of becoming an IT savvy CEO may seem overwhelming at first. Modern technology moves and changes at a quick pace, has its own jargon, and may currently be fully understood by only a select few in your organization. However, those CEOs who seek to increase their knowledge and management of the technology used in their business notice that their pursuit to become an IT savvy CEO grows their bottom line. Below are six strategies that will assist in leveraging technology and make you an IT savvy CEO.

  1. Recognize IT as an Investment

To be an IT savvy CEO is to recognize that IT is more than an expense or cost of doing business – it is an understanding that the technology available to modern businesses exists to increase efficiency, maximize growth, and provide a higher return on investment. By establishing a mindset that IT can increase the bottom line, IT savvy CEOs identify opportunities available to their business by increasing their investment in their IT environment. To see the most return on your IT investment, it must be strategically focused on the needs of the business. Approach technology as a tool to gain efficiencies or do something previously impossible to improve your business.

  1. Leverage IT for Efficiency

Being an IT savvy CEO doesn’t require a collegiate degree in IT or a formal education in networking. In fact, a high-level understanding of one’s technology is sufficient when seeking a solution to an inefficiency or hurdle faced by your business. Successful CEOs manage IT decisions hand-in-hand with other management decisions to eliminate inefficiencies and make experiences better for both employees and clients.

Consider your typical client experience from beginning to end: What parts of the client experience can be made more pleasant? In order to better equip your team, what tools or processes would enable them to better service clients or be more successful in their position? IT savvy CEOs know that continual improvement in both of these areas will not only improve the bottom line, but will increase customer satisfaction and company culture across the board.

  1. Know Your IT Risks

Many CEOs left asking “What happened?” after an IT issue were not aware of the risks present in their IT environment. To be an IT savvy CEO is to know and understand what risks exists in your network. These risks can be associated with security gaps, data breaches/losses, software vulnerabilities, and disaster recovery options.

It is important to identify and understand risks in your network so that they can be eliminated or reduced. This reduced risk can save you a great deal of cost, frustration and confusion in the future. Furthermore, being aware of present risks and actively seeking to reduce them will assist in making increasingly-strategic IT decisions with clear goals and directives.

  1. Know the Marketplace

One of the key indicators that a CEO is IT savvy is not only that they have a conceptual understanding of the technology in production at their own business, but also solutions available in the marketplace. Having a working knowledge of what tools exist can provide a benchmark with which to compare your current environment and inform you of any missed opportunities other solutions may offer.

One of the best ways to identify the solutions most relevant to your industry is to collaborate with other businesses. Attending relevant conferences and asking other business leaders about their technology will allow you to keep a keen watch on the market, as well as provide first-hand reviews of products and processes that are available. What solutions are other businesses in your industry using? Is your business trailing behind, or is your IT environment giving you a competitive edge?

  1. Build an IT Savvy Leadership Team

An IT savvy CEO knows that they cannot succeed as the only leader leveraging IT as a tool for growth. They seek to foster a culture of IT management across their organization, encouraging leadership to seek areas where optimizing the organization’s technology environment will benefit their team. Ongoing IT training and utilization assist in building a company culture of IT savviness, allowing the team to better utilize their tools and seek new solutions to increase productivity.

  1. Build a Strategic Roadmap

The final indicator of an IT savvy CEO is that they have a clear and strategic plan for the future. They are aware of the ever-changing world of technology, and seek to navigate it confidently with clear directives. These paths are unique to each business, but the objectives remain the same: seek IT as an investment, increase efficiency, minimize risk, utilize the marketplace, and empower a culture of IT savvy leaders.