The next wave of IT professionals and leaders need to break out of their ‘code-cutting, nerd’ mindset if they are to excel in the industry. Being an excellent IT leader is no longer simply about technical proficiency.
Moreover, thinking like a programmer – the kind of thinking that was once required in IT – has become a significant restriction to moving up the ladder, and may even be damaging the profession as a whole.
Leaders need to take an across the business view of IT, understand the pros and cons from the perspective of their peers in other departments, and clearly understand and advocate the fundamental role IT can play in adding value.
The perception of IT professionals as ‘nerds’, working in isolation, cut off from other departments, no longer matches the reality of the IT landscape, and can’t fulfil the business’ needs in terms of what they are looking for in IT leaders.
Big thinkers, strategic thinkers, are the kinds of people who should be moving into leadership roles in IT, and are the kind of leaders we need to promote the profession.
The requirements of the IT portfolio have changed dramatically in the last few decades, and subsequently, the role of the IT manager has changed as well. To be a successful leader in the IT industry, much more is needed than technical knowledge.
The case for a lot of businesses is that application programmers are simply no longer needed. Organisations are increasingly moving away from hosting and managing internal hardware.
Infrastructure is moving into cloud, and the benefits of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) packages are becoming more apparent.
As a leader in this new IT landscape, it will be your ability to outsource technical issues that will be your great asset, not your technical skills.
As a leader, accepting COTS as a viable option is a major step towards breaking out of the ‘code-cutter, nerd’ mindset. The business benefits of COTS are becoming increasingly hard to ignore.
On a business level, COTS packages are industry standard, meaning cheaper support that doesn’t require customisation. And because problems can be fixed cheaply and quickly, COTS brings down the business’ TCO.
Also, from adaptability and innovation perspectives, COTS is superior to customised in-house IT. It is flexible, and makes switching between providers easier and more commercially viable.
Most importantly, it leaves the IT department – and management – free to tackle the bigger business issues that add real value to the business.
In terms of customer interactions, the proliferation of ‘social business’ means we have reached a level of near real-time visibility, due to the explosion of apps, mobile access, customers using IT on the move, and the increasing need for immediate results.
There is no more hiding behind your computer screen, as customers require immediate interaction. The face of IT is now the face of the business, so it is no wonder IT is undergoing an extreme makeover.