From Support to Business Partner: How Technology Is Changing the IT Workforce
As I sat down to write this blog post, I had an ironic experience. Our office WiFi stopped working, and I eventually headed home after a few unsuccessful attempts at troubleshooting. The amusing part was it perfectly illustrated what I was about to write: that we live in a world where we react to the constructs of technology.
The technological conditions in which we live — how we act in accordance with the technologies that make our lives easier — are not new, but the era has assumed different characteristics over the years. According to CompTIA’s latest Industry Trend Report, technology has evolved in stages: the mainframe era, the PC/internet era, and the era we are in now: the cloud/mobile era.
What does this mean for your IT organization? The evolution of IT is not just a reminder to keep investing in new tools and technologies, but a wake-up call for business owners and IT leaders as well. As Accenture’s Technology Vision 2017 report states, “to achieve their ambitious goals, leaders are refocusing on an often overlooked factor: the workforce.” Employees are often an underappreciated gear within the IT organization, keeping processes moving and ironing out kinks in the system (among other crucial tasks). Here are three reasons why IT organizations need to invest in their people in order to stay ahead of the curve.
1. The scale and importance of IT is growing
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently projected that IT jobs will grow 12 percent between 2014 and 2024. And they aren’t the only ones; TEKsystems’ 2017 Annual Report surveyed a number of IT leaders, 92 percent of whom expect their IT workforce to grow over the next year. This projected growth is a direct reaction to increases in business technology. Businesses need the proper workforce size to be able to monitor and manage all of the systems they invest in. As your team grows and their processes become increasingly important, the success of your IT department will become more influential to the success of your business.
2. IT departments have money coming their way – for technology and for the people
The TEKsystems survey also revealed that 88 percent of IT leaders expect their IT budget to increase for the upcoming year. The anticipated budget increase means a few things for IT leaders. First of all, budget increases are a double-edged sword: they come with expectations of an overall increase of profitability and business efficiency. There will be higher expectations for visibility of your department’s performance in relation to the overall business. The increase in budget also reveals expectations that your department move beyond your regular commitment to get the most out of existing systems, as well as invest in new technology. In order to keep up with ongoing trends like cloud and digital transformations, you need the right people on your team to integrate this continuously growing technology stack into your business strategy.
3. Your workforce must have the skills to make the technology work
Supporting these foreseen technology changes requires an obvious cog in the machine — your workforce’s skills — to make technology investments successful. We all know there are manual processes involved when implementing new platforms; network upgrades are required for cloud migrations, PC support continues to rise while your organization is expanding mobility solutions, and data management protocols are essential before applying analytics.
Once, the primary task required of your team used to be support. And while support obligations continue to exist, other skillsets will be required as your organization constantly adopts new technologies — hence IT leaders seeing their role changing. The TEKSystem survey acknowledged that IT leaders foresee these changes driving initiatives involving business growth and strengthening infrastructure. Because of high pressure to align the IT organization with the rest of the business, leaders need to invest in a workforce that can speak the language of IT and the language of business — bridging the gap between the two.
The Future of the IT Workforce
In the cloud/mobile era, technology is commonly seen as a disruptor — people are buzzing about cloud and mobile computing, storing and collecting big data, and the IoT where everything is connected. The speed of technology has quickened and the demands on data have grown. As a result, IT teams are moving away from classic IT roles and into supporting roles for harnessing the power of data. However, once you classify technology not just as a disruptor but as an enabler, you empower your teams to focus on analysis and visualization. The IT workforce will be the ones working directly with their business counterparts, trying to make sense of the data they are collecting and its value to the company.
[Photo credit: Pexels.]