IT professionals need to develop business and service orientated skills in order to understand, and get closer to, the businesses they work in. IT service management (ITSM) and its related industry has been advocating this for 20 years or more, but it is only recently that this issue has become top of the agenda within many organisations.
I believe that this is due to the following factors:
1: Commercial Pressure - IT is now mission critical for pretty much every business. The ability to integrate business processes and technology is vital, yet the industry has discovered that it is not particularly great at this, as many high profile public sector IT projects would evidence.
2: ITIL - IT infrastructure library (ITIL) whether you're an ITIL fan or not, the rise in profile for this framework of ITSM processes has identified the general lack of soft and business skills in the IT services arena.
3: Globalisation - we've all seen the dramatic rise in the global provisioning of IT services of all sorts. It's far too broad to call it 'outsourcing' any more! Many organisations have their own people sited in thee or four locations worldwide to optimise service and support operations.
All this has led to the growing demand for professionals in the service desk area and people with business skills to work in IT generally. Hence it is imperative that staff have access to ongoing training that will help them to develop their careers and perform better in these areas, not just the technical IT areas.
A lack of these business and soft skills - in India, particularly - has been cited as one of the key reasons for high stress, dissatisfaction and high attrition rate amongst the rapidly growing workforce in the ITSM industry. But while India is the market-leading powerhouse, this effect is not just hitting employers there. At last month's Service Desk Expo in London, seminar delegates, while being bullish about the improving quality of service they were able to offer their businesses, were also concerned about how they would manage to support the next generation of IT literate consumers that are coming out of schools and universities.
Better customer interaction skills, the ability to work as a team and increased efficiency are therefore essential to handle the demanding nature of jobs within ITSM. NASSCOM, the Indian Government's IT skills body, has recognised that India's burgeoning service desk community needs to gain expertise in soft skills as these skills have become an indispensable part of the job. The good news for NASSCOM is that India has an amazing talent pool, and with the demand for skilled manpower increasing, India has fully acknowledged just how vital it is to improve its skills to offer service delivery at a level that matches global standards. India is determined to overcome issues regarding its understanding of western cultures, language and accents and it will undoubtedly further improve its market share over the next few years.
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