Business trends for IT professionals
In a sluggish
marketplace, IT professionals should not just keep waiting for the good old
times to return, but gear up to take on new challenges and become more
business-savvy, writes MOHAN BABU
This is a time
for introspection for IT professionals around the world. With the economies in
the US and Europe failing to show signs of overcoming sluggishness of the past
two years, even the outlook for the beginning of 2003 appears gloomy. The
technology sector too is holding back on any marked growth, almost as if waiting
for the rest of the economy to rebound. However, even a time of slowdown is not
a time for professionals to sit-back and wait for things to happen. On the
contrary, this is the time to refocus on one’s priorities and goals and working
towards them. Most major IT publications and consulting firms have been talking
about this need for professionals to refocus their energies. Among the different
ideas floating around, Gartner’s view for IT professionals stands out. The eight
guidelines for technologists from Gartner include:
- Take inventory
of your technology and business knowledge. Be honest about bare spots, and
expand your knowledge.
- Get smart
about the key drivers of your company’s business: Network with business
counterparts to discuss their financial and operational objectives. Become the
business-knowledge liaison to your IT team.
required services: By understanding your business, you will be able to
identify and implement services that will help drive your company’s success.
Integration, process insight and versatility will be the watchwords.
- Become an
evergreen professional: Pursue emerging and enduring knowledge, competencies
leadership opportunities and accountability: This is not the year to lay low.
Mergers and acquisitions, consolidation and globalisation will increase the
number of projects and internal initiatives. Step up to the plate.
your knowledge of business principles: There are dozens of ways to gain
business acumen: accounting, communications, financial analysis, marketing,
cost management and so on. Additional business know-how will enhance your
career and increase your credibility in the business units within your
- Get connected:
Network with project leaders and champions. Careers are built on both what you
know and on who you know.
- Find new value
in prior IT investments: Revisit the applications and technologies that have
been deployed and re-apply functions and features to new processes. Your
success will depend on your newfound knowledge of business processes, customer
markets and financial goals.
This list by
Gartner is really interesting because it focuses on the importance of merging an
individual’s IT skills with the business knowledge and building business acumen.
The old school of technology careers focused on the need to build deep technical
skills. Business managers and IT leaders are now revisiting that theory by
requiring their IT professionals to become more business-savvy. Therefore, it is
becoming important for individuals to align their career with that of the
functional requirements of the business. This is becoming more pertinent as
organisations get leaner and expect individuals to work on cross-functional
teams by removing additional layers of management. For example, in most large
organisations, IT departments used to employ dedicated teams of
business-consultants whose main job was to liaison between development teams and
users. The new paradigm is shifting towards requiring IT professionals to also
extend their knowledge by acquiring the ability to liaison directly with the
end-users by being involved in preparing business requirements.
realising that IT, in most cases, is a non-core functional area that can either
be outsourced or be done transparently without the day-to-day intervention from
management of functional teams. For instance, finance and sales managers do not
want to be involved in technical decisions regarding the selection of software,
deployment of networks, hardware, interconnections, etc. IT managers supporting
the functional areas are expected to step up to the plate and work on
appropriate technical solutions by understanding the business requirements.
Indian consulting houses are also closely watching this trend. Until recently
they were content to remain focused on technologies by getting the design and
technical specifications from end-users and clients, coding and deploying the
technical solutions. However, now is the opportunity for us to graduate up the
value chain by acquiring the functional knowledge to interact with end-users at
a business/functional level, and translating those discussions into IT solutions
that will solve the business problems. This is the perfect opportunity for
Indian IT professionals to move up the value chain.