The Five Skills of the Quantum IT Professional

IT professionals need to rapidly learn a set of new skills to compete as the IT industry transitions to its new quantum era.

Our customers are more technology savvy than ever before and they rely on our technology solutions to enable and drive virtually every part of the business. Most importantly, they are often comparing and contrasting the services they receive from us with those that they receive on a personal level and with those services from new competitors who are selling directly to them. The challenge for them--and, more critically, for us--is that we do not typically make it easy for them to compare the value they receive. While consumer technology firms and cloud providers are speaking “their language,” most internal IT organizations continue to speak only in the “language of technology.”

Quantum IT professionals will understand that to compete and thrive in the Quantum Age, they will need to speak in terms of service and value that the customer can understand. You will need to master the ability to understand how IT services produce business value, understand the various customer segments that you service, and to map your services against your competitors to identify both differentiators and areas in which you are simply not competitive. You will then need to learn the art of communicating that value message in terms that are both meaningful and consumable by your various customer constituencies. It is probably a lot more than you signed up for, but it is the reality of competing in the Quantum Age.

Innovation and Collaboration Skills
Technology is all about innovation, right? Collaboration is fueled by technology, isn’t it? The irony is that while technology is one of the greatest engines of innovation and collaboration the world has ever seen, IT organizations are notoriously bad at both of these skills. This is mostly the result of the ever increasing complexity that exists within IT organizations. The level of technical discipline and domain expertise required to effectively manage our modern, complex technology architectures builds a set of inherent technology-driven silos that are difficult to overcome. From the outside looking in, most non-IT people think that we are just a bunch of interchangeable geeks. We know, however, that the reality is different. It can be very difficult to innovate and collaborate when we don’t even speak the same “technology dialect” as the person in the next cube.

Innovation in the Quantum Age is no simple task. There will be no true innovation within a silo. Innovation will only come through collaborative efforts that rise up to the highest common denominator--the business problems that need solving. Innovation and collaboration is difficult when it is only allowed to exist at a technical level. But when it is elevated to the level of identifying the “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” that an entire team can rally around, then it is not only possible, but fun and engaging.

The skill that the Quantum IT professional must master is therefore not how to come up with better ideas. Instead, you must master the skills of clarity and inspiration. You must learn how to see the big problems that need fixing and then develop the ability to inspire others to see the opportunity with you--and their role in fixing them. It is this ability to clearly see the big problems and opportunities--those that will drive meaningful value--and then to “rally the troops” around solving them that will create a new era of innovation and collaboration for IT organizations.

This article was originally published on 01-22-2013
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