Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
05:33 PM
Connect Directly
Repost This

IT Careers: 8 Steps Toward New Business Roles

Moving from a traditional IT role to a more business-focused role has challenges. Consider this advice for a successful transition.
1 of 9

As information technology becomes more tightly woven into business processes and strategic business planning, IT personnel find themselves being pulled in many directions -- by marketing, sales, the social business team, finance, human resources, customer service and so on. In fact, IT pros might find the work done in other departments more appealing or rewarding -- and decide to jump ship.

In InformationWeek's most recent IT Salary Survey, one-third of IT managers and one in five IT staffers said they report to someone outside of the IT organization for at least half of their time.

InformationWeek asked this question for the first time in the 2013 survey because there's so much discussion about business units controlling more of the IT budget, InformationWeek editor Chris Murphy wrote in his report on the survey results. "When IT pros are embedded in a business unit, that function tends to consume most of their time," Murphy said. "The lesson for IT leaders is that IT pros embedded in marketing or manufacturing won't be able to keep a 'day job' supporting ERP applications or balancing data center workloads."

The survey also found that about one-third of IT staffers and half of managers have formal responsibilities outside of IT, even if they're still part of the IT organization. The most common areas are business development, R&D, non-IT support and marketing. "Anecdotally, we see more IT pros are spending time with marketing and product development teams, as technology becomes a bigger part of these customer-facing disciplines," said Murphy.

Although some IT pros might be dragged to these other disciplines kicking and screaming, others find that their technology skills and background align so well with certain business-focused roles that they want to pursue those jobs in earnest.

The transition from the IT department can be challenging, but it's becoming easier as technology increasingly enters the business discussion. Following are eight pieces of advice from HR expert Tony Deblauwe and executive recruiter Bruce Hurwitz.

Are you an IT person who has made the jump to a different discipline, or who wants to? Please comment here or email me at

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

1 of 9
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Apprentice
7/30/2013 | 4:02:27 PM
re: IT Careers: 8 Steps Toward New Business Roles
I was reading about the so-called end for XP. Like many other people, I have a 2003 desktop XP that works fine. And, it drives a LaserJet 4+ printer. This is going to sound really odd, but here goes: "Arc welding is a direct short that is controlled." Years ago I had problems with PLCs and computers crashing. We were located in an industrial park where a lot of businesses did fabrication with spot welding - the same as arc welding. That process dumps a whole lot of garbage onto the neutral leg of your electrical system. I bought high-end surge suppressors, like the ones used in radio stations, to filter out all that noise. End of problems. Also, don't plug your printer into the same circuit as your computer. Many printers have capacitors that dump to neutral for the fast start. If you are located in a high-rise office building many of the elevators use capacitive-start motors which dump to the neutral leg.
Deb Donston-Miller
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/29/2013 | 5:01:34 PM
re: IT Careers: 8 Steps Toward New Business Roles
I've heard from lots of IT execs about how difficult it is to make the move into a different business role once you have reached the top of the IT ladder. Have you found that to be the case? Is it easier if you have *less* experience/time in IT?
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 - 2014
Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.