Career Watch: How IT can be influential

Career Watch: How IT can be influential

Q&A: David Martin and Kathy Quinn

The co-founders of business-growth consulting firm Growth Vault discuss how IT can be influential within a business.

Is IT seen as influential within the enterprise?

DM: It depends on the organization. If it's a technology company, then absolutely. Otherwise, IT historically has not been as influential as other areas that are more closely tied to revenues, like marketing and sales. However, given how ubiquitous technology is today, a company that is not being influenced by IT is likely to be at a competitive disadvantage.

It is almost impossible today to have smooth and high-quality interactions with customers, to run a company's internal operations, to communicate effectively within the company or to access important information to make good business decisions unless technology is advanced. Technology is at the core of any company's customer strategy, operations and execution strategy, sales strategy, financial strategy, etc. No company can run effectively without technology capabilities that lead or match its core business capabilities.

KQ: IT can build influence in organizations. We've seen this happen for a couple of reasons. The first is that IT leadership has done a good job linking the business strategy with IT. There's a recognition that successful execution of the business strategy depends on fabulous IT capabilities and execution. When that happens, IT isn't just a cost center. It can become a strategic advantage to better execution.

The second instance is when customer interactions are facilitated by technology. If purchasing and customer service interactions almost always have an electronic option, IT shines in a better light.\

What's the best way for IT leaders to become more influential within the business?

DM: This is simple: Be a business leader who happens to be an expert in IT, not an IT expert who happens to work in a business. Focus on the important business results you can help your company produce, accelerate and improve. Show how IT's work accelerates the execution of core business strategies.

Kathy Quinn

Kathy Quinn, co-founder,

Growth Vault

KQ: Technology leaders can get so geeked out by how they do what they do that other business leaders think they don't understand what matters. They make themselves outcasts who don't get invited to participate in the business-critical conversations. Your peers don't care nearly as much as you do about the latest technology release or the way your team is structured.

Just how influential can IT be?

DM: Look at ING Direct. It was founded as a direct bank -- no branches -- so technology was a core part of its business strategy, not just a support function. It used technology as one of its competitive advantages to greatly differentiate itself from competitors. In fact, much of its fast growth was a result of attracting a technology-savvy clientele away from traditional banks.

Other banks viewed technology as a tool to help them accomplish their core banking work of accepting, holding and distributing funds, many times through face-to-face interactions with customers. ING Direct viewed technology as a source of competitive advantage. So IT can be very influential and really drive a company's success.

-- Jamie Eckle

Five Pointers for Resumes That Resonate

Some of the latest trends in resume writing are especially relevant for IT professionals. Suzana Simic, director of career development at the Computer Systems Institute, offers these five tips.

1. Create a video resume. Technology is ever-changing. Show your next employer that you are in the know.

2. Brand your talents. Link to an online portfolio of your professional achievements, your tech-related blogs or any posted writing samples.

3. Don't bury your certifications. IT professionals who not only know technology but also have the certifications to back that up should make sure prospective employers know about them.

4. Don't come off as a techie's techie. Employers may seek your tech skills, but they want soft skills to come along with them. Talk about how you have worked collaboratively and helped achieve company goals.

5. Showcase your achievements. A lot of resumes list skill after skill but don't give a sense of what the individual has done with them. Don't be shy about explaining how your expertise in technology has resulted in revenue gains or cost reductions.

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