How to Thrive as an IT Professional
By Dr. Myles Vogel, University Dean of IT, Computer Science and Engineering
The Information Technology (IT) function has become increasingly important to overall decision-making and strategy implementation in businesses. That’s not surprising when you consider how technology drives competitive advantage. Innovation enables businesses to stay ahead of the competition, delivering and satisfying more customers more effectively and efficiently. Further, IT is now an important revenue generator as an increasing share of consumer sales are transacted through mobile and online channels.
As a result, the demand on IT professionals has evolved, and in many cases, has become more challenging. Those who hope to lead in this changing environment must consider how the IT role has expanded that requires an increased knowledge base, as well as a more nimble mindset able to adapt to a quickly changing field.
The future demands well-rounded IT professionals.
Collaboration is an important part of successful businesses. Most are working to eliminate silos between internal disciplines. That means IT professionals must have the ability to do more than coding and programming. They must have other related skills in other specialized business disciplines, like marketing, communications, finance and project management. Moreover that knowledge must be complimented with strong soft skills—communication, collaboration, time management, presentation skills and negotiation. To be most effective, IT must be an integral participant in initiatives that affect the entire organization.
Innovation and differentiation is key.
Companies also want IT professionals who understand business needs and how technology can meet them. Technology is the foundation for competitive differentiation, enabling businesses to deliver services more efficiently and effectively, and that contributes to the bottom line. That means IT professionals must also be skilled innovators able to:
- Collaborate with key business leaders and other stakeholders to develop and execute plans for present and future competitive advantage.
- Align technology with corporate vision and goals.
- Develop strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with vendors.
A unique combination of strategy and technical know-how is vital.
Finally, IT professionals must function as both strategists and technicians to deliver the most value to organizations. To that end, they must:
- Understand and support business priorities.
- Act as business information analysts and experts in researching, evaluating and planning information technology initiatives.
- Be a central part of the overarching business process.
- Effectively communicate at the C-level to advocate for their interests in the IT function.
- Act as responsible stewards in managing costs, mitigating risks and providing an appropriate return on investments.
- Demonstrate the ability to recover from major crises or disasters in the face of privacy, data and security risks.
Ultimately, the evolving IT professionals will be linchpins who enable an organization to be distinguished as one that can quickly adapt and lead in its industry, and one that is just a follower.
Dr. Myles Vogel, is the University Dean of Information Technology, Computer Science and Engineering at Colorado Technical University. As a former CIO, Dr. Vogel brings over 25 years of experience in IT for domestic and international firms within the oil, tech and medical industries. Connect with Dr. Vogel on Twitter @CTUTech.
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