Business Quotient of an IT Professional in the SMAC world

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As we move towards Social-leveraged, Cloud-enabled, Analytics-powered and Mobility engaged Enterprises, how is the life changing for a technology professional?

 The technology spend from Business people is increasing.  Whether you are an IT professional inside an enterprise as part of the CIO organization or as part of an IT services organization, the situation is the same: Increasingly, IT projects are no longer only in the realm of technology people. And the challenges are the same: While Business leaders primarily focus on time-to-market amongst other priorities, they are less inclined to understand the concept of technical debt which frustrates you, the IT Professional.

 It is predicted that the technology spend from a CMO will overtake that of a CIO in the next few years.  Even if I dont take this prediction seriously, I already see few changes on the ground. In the last one year or so, I find my team and me increasingly talking to Executives other than CIO who are functional CXO’s, Retail stores heads, Distribution heads, and Entrepreneurs with non-IT background.  These people are leading business initiatives where technology is inseparable from the core business process. For example, improving customer experience in a chain of retail stores is a business process, which is 100% an IT project.

 Given the above changing context from a purely application development perspective to a business process centric one, what is expected out of you as an IT professional?  Following comes to my mind:

  • You need to tune into the business vision of the project: Is it enhancing customer experience? Is it enhancing faster decision making?  Simply put, You need to improve your Business IQ
  • You need to have clear first hand awareness of customer challenges, needs, concerns, desires, and expectations. You need to be a good conversationalist, a good listener. You need to question business value, challenge assumptions rather than only being an order taker
  • You need to think like an end customer (consumer) and design software in a way people want to consume them. You need to be empathetic as well as intuitive
  • Your thinking should undergo a major change:  it is Business process first rather than Technology first.  You are expected to contribute toward enhancing business processes which are impacted by the new technologies
  • You need to think more on the lines of producing working software early and frequently rather than a long drawn water-fall model where people usually get bogged down by documentation & endless change requests. Agility is important but prevent Chaos with a flexible governance including Business Users

The above traits were required in the last decade also. You argue. I agree that that these were required earlier also, but only as nice-to-have traits. Now, in the SMAC era, where the project life cycles are getting shortened,  business executives have increased their technology spend,  the above traits are increasingly becoming must-have traits for an IT professional.

 In short, IT project is not merely an IT project any more. It is a business project. You would be dealing with Business users more often. With the consumerization of technology, business users know what to expect from multiple technology enabled initiatives. You would be better off if you think like a business partner, a consultant, co-creating the journey around applications along with the business users, rather than restricting yourself to technology speak. After all, the whole purpose of technology is to make the business better, life simpler for employees and customers. Technology is a great enabler for Happy People, Happy Customers.

Comments:Comments 2

  • Noor Mahdi

    Very interesting and nice to read the changing trends in the IT fraternity.
    Considering the fact that the “nice to have” trait is now a “must have”. How is any company bridging the gap in order to upgrade their tech guys? Since all IT professionals may not have the capacity to learn these soft skills by themselves. Plus these traits are still not considered as the “must haves” in the tech campuses.
    The only arena where these skills will be considered with all seriousness is the office space. How is the industry planning to bridge this gap?

  • Greg Jaeger

    I totally get what you are saying… IT professionals need to be IT and business professionals in this changing world. IT people should be able to attend business meetings and at very least understand business terms and the real world implications, take ‘Working Capital’ as an example… IT developers working on invoicing and billing systems should understand the importance of how effective their billing and cash reconciliation systems are as it has a direct impact on the business’s ability to operate. Put simply, when a business unit engages with IT, if IT don’t know, understand, or be able to talk with knowledge, then the project will fail or under achieve.

    I would like to add another spin on this article. That spin is that the world of art and expressionism also is beginning to really take a role, computer science and art coming together to deliver an amazing and totally new interactive experience – form needs to meet function! An application can be brilliant in terms of IT architecture (performance, resilience, technical brilliance, etc), it can be brilliant in terms of efficiency of use, but if it aint cool, then it won’t stand out amongst the crowd.

    So, a key role of the CIO and IT leadership is to build a team containing skills which when working in unison deliver head and shoulders above the rest, one that delivers beautiful-and-sexy, technically brilliant-and-sustainable and above all assured quality data that can feed insight into the next generation of evolution – which by the way will help sustain the organisation you are in.

    Oh, let me not forget… service and support! Get this wrong, and all the above good work can be undone too ;-)

    So… go forth and find your artistic, IT competent, business savvy, touchy-feely communication super-human IT professional of the future, then pay them more than the CIO gets paid!

    Hope you enjoyed my views…



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