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11/27/2013
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Suaad Sait
Suaad Sait
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Four Ways IT Can Embrace Business Management

IT professionals have an opportunity to grow their roles and responsibilities by embracing business management. Here are four tips to get you started.

Today’s IT managers seem more like acrobats than technologists as they juggle their own technology and teams along with vendors and their affiliated services. Now there’s a new ball for IT leaders to keep in the air: business management.

As technology becomes increasingly integral to business functions, technologists are being presented with opportunities to become more visible within their organizations. IT leaders can -- and should -- step out of their comfort zones and into business management roles.

This may be a bit disconcerting because business management isn’t likely a responsibility that you initially signed up for. But it can also present significant opportunities if you are able to evolve your skill sets.

So as you don’t feel as if you’re making this move without a net, here are four ways you can take on a new role without completely leaving your old one behind.

1. Embrace the new IT. Administrators are beginning to play more of a broader role such that they can make decisions based on what they can do in-house, with services, and in the cloud. Therefore, it’s likely you will eventually be asked to serve as the primary conduit among different factions -- sales, marketing, vendors -- and your own IT team. This will become an increasingly important component of the job, particularly as businesses start to employ additional hosted services for both infrastructure and software.

2. Develop business skills. A recent SolarWinds global IT manager survey indicated that many IT managers feel that gaining a better understanding of their businesses will be very important to their own success over the next five years. For you, this means that while you must always keep one foot planted in your server room, it’s time to branch out. Understand not only your company’s technology objectives, but financial goals as well. There are a number of ways to do this, many of them simple” listen in on your company’s earnings call, for example, or pay close attention to company presentations. This leads to…

3. Become a networking fiend. I don’t mean switching and routing; I mean make human connections. Connect with your IT peers, and with other divisions within the organization. To be successful, you have to make an effort to break down barriers between IT, marketing, finance, and other key business units and executives. Make yourself visible and do your best to gain a solid understanding of how each of these divisions work, and what they’re driving towards.

4. Integrate. Think about the orchestration between systems and applications in your business, both on premises and in the cloud. You and your team should drive integration of these technology islands and look for mechanisms to increase automation. In doing so you will accelerate business results.

The IT landscape is changing, and you need to change along with it. Embracing this change may not be easy, but it could pay off very well. Yes, you will have greater responsibility, but also increased visibility and, very likely, job security. Isn’t that worth learning to do a little more juggling?

Suaad Sait is executive vice president, products and markets, at SolarWinds.

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danielcawrey
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danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
11/30/2013 | 10:48:02 PM
Re: 5. Take it to the next level
These are all excellent points. It seems to me that IT is moving away from being super technical and more consultative. 

Some of this has to do with innovations like the cloud and how they require closer vendor relationships. Some of it is just that users are more sophisticated than ever. Mobile is a component as well. 

Still, there is a need for a business and soft skills focus. 
felixlgriffin
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felixlgriffin,
User Rank: Strategist
11/30/2013 | 9:09:01 PM
Become Engaged In Other Aspects of Business
#3. Become a networking fiend and make human connections. Very Important!

I agree.. Connecting with  IT peers and with other divisions within the organization is imperative to a successful career in IT and Business as well. Being successful means actively engaging  your IT team, marketing, finance, and other key business departments and gaining a solid understanding of how each department operates, their goals and how IT plays a role in the overall success of the organization.

 For instance, I would much rather write code, deal with programming and protocols than to write (worry about the correct use of subject verb agreement and spelling) my thoughts and experiences with my peers. Many IT Pros would fair better if they would learn the art of Social Facilatation and human interaction. Being able to communicate with the Finance and Marketing departments as well as interact and engage with other department heads could solve complex issues and improve an organizations performance overall. But this can only happen if members of IT are willing to step outside their comfort zones and become involved in other aspects of business.

 
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Black Belt
11/30/2013 | 12:53:01 PM
Re: 5. Take it to the next level
Adding more, there are more business experts however there very little potion of technological experts with business knowledge. This always comes in handy to move in to the next level.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Black Belt
11/30/2013 | 12:52:21 PM
Re: 5. Take it to the next level
@Brandt, very correct. Much weightage is given to people and process. And it will be much more interesting to work with them together with the knowledge in Information Technology.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Black Belt
11/30/2013 | 12:47:44 PM
Re: 5. Take it to the next level
This concept will develop the skills in different areas such as customer relationships, marketing , vendor management and so on.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Black Belt
11/30/2013 | 12:47:10 PM
Re: 5. Take it to the next level
"IT leaders can -- and should -- step out of their comfort zones and into business management roles" well I like this a lot. Most of the IT managers prefer to be in their Tec zones than moving to the business zone. This approach will help them to do both simultaneously.
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
11/29/2013 | 3:26:10 PM
5. Take it to the next level
5. Take it to the next level.  Learn that the future of technology is not so much in the technology as it is in the people and process.  Learn how to help the business units use what they already have to a level higher than just 20%.  The business group and the users will appreciate that much more than they will that latest upgrade you had planned.
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