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.