There's a longstanding IT mindset that "customers" means "co-workers" -- in other words, an exclusive focus on internal users rather than the customers that actually pay the bills. Strategic IT pros need to dump this mindset, even if it might occasionally rub some folks the wrong way.
"Something I say a lot to my co-workers, which surprises them: 'Actually, you're not my customer and my ultimate goal is not necessarily to make you happy.' My ultimate customers are Forrester's clients and shareholders, and my job is to make them happy through long-term, strategic, holistic thinking that delivers value and drives revenues," Peltzman says. "Focus on those customers and don't be afraid to make an unpopular internal decision every now and then. A solid track record of good business decisions can garner more credibility [with] employers and future employers than just trying to please everyone in the meeting room."