IT transforming to BT – Part 2 – Business Technology

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In Part 1 we discussed the overall climate in IT shifting to BT, but how does that affect the IT Professional? Change is inevitable in technology, as is it for the staff so having to adapt is something most of the staff can accomplish.  Having said that, just because they are used to change doesn't always mean that in this shift that everyone will be successful or capable.  When you think of your team, and some of your best workers, there is a chance that you have a hard worker, but they are just good at repetitive tasks, or troubleshooting specific issues but their ability to understand the larger picture isn't quite there.  As a leader this should be be your focus to change, or help to develop.

As the IT shifts more to a business minded focus it's important to start to shift with it, to begin to split your time between furthering your Technical knowledge and furthering your understanding of the industry and business itself.  After all, to be able to come up with the best solutions, especially proactively, you need to be ahead of the power curve.  IT Professionals are used to thinking ahead, but they now also have to understand where the business and industries are going as well.  I remember reading an article a few years back in Wired (Unhappy at work? Be an Intrapreneur) and the first thing that struck me was the word Intrapreneur.  By definition it's "a manager within a company who promotes innovative product development and marketing", in lay-mans terms it's taking the situation you have and finding a way to develop something "new" for your current employer. At face value this is largely important for the worker to think about, and potentially do. The upside is that if you are able to develop that new idea for the company, it not only enhances the company, but it also elevates your worth within the company thus making it a "win win" situation. A secondary byproduct of the project is it usually enhances your skill set in some facet. It could give you a better understanding of the processes within the company which is needed to elevate from within, or the technology being implemented could also have a learning curve, thus giving you another skill-set notch on your resume. Either way there is nothing to be lost by trying to improve the company while learning something at the same juncture.

Enhancing your skill set here is key, and just not your technology skill set but your business skill set. As all companies have become more dependent on technology, or grow, those who were involved in the early stages of integrating the technology have far more important tasks to be dealing with. This can sometimes slow down the addition of technology to line of business when trying to asses the impacts by management. An imperative skill for tech pro's to learn, is how does the business work. If your company makes widgets, what's the process, why that process, have they explored other ways to make those widgets. As you are understanding how the business does what it does, you may see specific technology advances that could apply. For instance, if Person A had to walk the widget to Person B to get painted, coming up with the idea of implementing a conveyor belt could increase the production times. Don't stop at just applying what you already know as well. Start learning or researching technology in your companies industry to see what others are doing. Read about the complaints people have about your competitors and see if there is a process you can help streamline to increase incoming business. Take the time to understand the other departments and what they do. It isn't uncommon for the IT Department to be a smaller subset of the "Corporate Department" or Overhead Departments. That being said, why not look at some of the other administrative departments and see if there is something you can improve for your internal clients.

These are all examples of what you should be doing as Information Technology is evolving into Business Technology. Getting to understand the business you are in, and look for ways to use technology to increase the proficiency of your company.