Technology has become a focal point for organisations that want to stay competitive in our increasingly digital world. As such, the role of IT teams has changed significantly over the years. We take a look at how these changes impact IT professionals in terms of their functions within a company.
It's great that IT is finally moving from the backroom to the board room. It's getting a lot of attention from senior level managers but it also brings more complexity to the role of the IT professional. They can no longer sit behind the scenes and just get on with the technical aspects of the job. There is greater demand for IT professionals that possess qualities that aren't directly related to technology.
Why Soft Skills Matter
We can't stress enough just how important soft skills are for today's IT professionals. For those who are confused as to what soft skills are, they are a combination of attributes that can help you build relationships with other people and work harmoniously with them. These include communication skills, interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence.
According to recruitment firm Hays, soft skills can make or break an IT job candidate’s chances of scoring their desired role:
Candidates in greatest demand have solid technical skills and strong soft skills that enable them to engage proactively and successfully with non-technical stakeholders. However, finding candidates with this combination of skills is difficult. "… Companies that do have in-house IT support teams regard soft skills as equally important to technical skills when assessing candidates. However, candidates with strengths in both areas are in short supply. Employers are making cultural fit the deciding factor when choosing candidates believing that technical skills can be acquired if candidates have the right attitude and a passion for their work."
It's easy to dismiss soft skills; they're nice and fluffy to have, but not essential. But I've heard many stories of highly trained IT professionals being let go from a job because they lack 'customer facing' skills. These things do matter.
Five Roles IT Teams Now Play In An Organisation
The way IT teams interact with people within the organisations has changed as well. Different business divisions are comfortable with varying levels of digitalisation and may call on technology in a variety of ways.
Technology and management consultancy firm CEB noted:
" All this means that IT teams must modify their approach to dealing with the line. Whereas some business partners need help from IT to understand the potential of digital capabilities, others may want technical help to access data in enterprise systems or build their own APIs."
To that end, IT professionals should play one or more of five roles to cater to the needs of different business units, according to CEB:
- Evangelising: IT should inspire and educate the business units about new digital opportunities, even if they're not that enthusiastic about it. It's your job to excite them about the possibilities.
- Consulting: This is a no-brainer. You should offer your advice on frameworks to help business units realise their digital vision.
- Brokering: Connect business units with internal or external IT resources.
- Coaching: As CEB said: "IT can also use its cross-company vantage point and technical expertise to coach employees."
- Delivering: This one is pretty self-explanatory, but one thing to note is that IT should rollout technology based on where it has comparative advantage.
If you're an IT professional, how has your role in your organisation changed over the years? Let us know in the comments.