IT professionals need to rapidly learn a set of new skills to compete as the IT industry transitions to its new quantum era.
Financial Management Skills
The biggest challenge with financial management may not be the technical skill, per se, but simply being willing to care about it. There are really two parts to the skill of financial management. The first is the technical component, such as learning how to read financial statements and how to understand investments in terms of return on investment, net present value and similar measures. These are important and, thankfully, there are many ready sources of education to learn these basics.
The more challenging aspect to financial management, however, may be the understanding that in the Quantum Age, financial management will become one of the primary mechanisms used to manage the daily operations of an IT organization. For most elements of an enterprise, financials are at the center of all activities and decisions. This is not the case in most IT organizations. Financial management is the thing that must be done in order to get a project funded, but after that it is rarely discussed except at the uppermost levels of the IT organization.
To be a quantum IT professional you must take a different approach. You must learn the financial skills and then embed them into your operational management model. Whether you are an individual contributor or a part of senior management, financials must become one of the primary metrics and tools used to monitor and drive operational delivery of the IT organization.
Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
Many IT professionals probably feel that they have all of the critical thinking and analytical skills they need. This may be true from a technical perspective. IT professionals are natural problem solvers and love to get to the bottom of technical challenges. The problem is that these same problem solving skills are often not applied to the disciplines of management, process and governance.
The heavy reliance on “best practices” and the sense that problems in these disciplines are less interesting to solve have left many IT organizations vulnerable to stagnation. On one hand, IT professionals tend to love change if that change comes wrapped in a new form of technology. But we are often very unwilling to change how we operate on a day-to-day basis. This is where critical thinking and analytical skills must be developed and applied.
It is rarely the lack of technical disciplines that cause frustration and service failures in IT organizations. It is almost always a lack of robust operating procedures, management disciplines and governance protocols that cause them. To thrive in this new age, quantum IT professionals will need to get comfortable with challenging the way things are done, to understand the business drivers behind operational delivery models, and creatively adopt, adapt and integrate effective industry practices to meet their specific needs.
Marketing and Communication Skills
IT professionals do not always like to admit it and probably wish it were not true, but we are always selling ourselves, our value and our services to our business customers. This has almost always been the case, but the mystique and “cloud of complexity” that have historically come with technology has created a buffer. But this has changed.
This article was originally published on 01-22-2013