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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.

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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 [email protected].

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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About the Author(s)

Debra Donston-Miller


Freelance writer Debra Donston-Miller was previously editor of eWEEK and executive editorial manager of eWEEK Labs. She can be reached at [email protected].

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