Working Outside the Box

Working Outside the Box

The publication Computerworld recently conducted a survey of IT professionals in which they were trying to identify the top skills outside of IT that are most valuable to an IT professional.

Now, why in the world would anyone within IT have to worry about skills that typically fall outside of the profession’s requirements? Well, there is a growing trend that is causing some IT workers to be uprooted from the friendly confines of their IT department.

More on that in a minute.

Here’s what Computerworld found to be the top non-IT skills:

  • Connecting with customers
  • Analytical thinking
  • Leadership / strategic thinking
  • Collaboration / team-building
  • Managing projects
  • Ability to innovate
  • Managing people
  • Marketing skill
  • Social medial skill

So, where is this all going?

You have heard the term “embedded journalist,” right? A member of the news media who is a part of the battlefield action, right beside military troops – 24 hours a day.

Computerworld says its research is picking up on a growing trend – the embedded IT worker. Not on the battlefield, but taking up residence within various departments or business units throughout a company. A survey by the publication showed that the embedded IT worker concept was in play for nearly 20 percent of its survey’s respondents.

Proponents for such a move say embedding IT personnel in business units is the most critical move any IT department can make in order to get closer to the customer. Among the benefits they site: stronger relationships that foster communication and collaboration between business users and IT, as well as a more complete understanding on the part of IT of operational workflows and processes. Those positive outcomes in turn allow IT to deliver systems that better meet organizational needs and goals.

Sound interesting? Could you see yourself picking up your laptop and exchanging the whir of servers and cooling fans for the full-time buzz of another department?

It’s not for everybody. An IT recruiter who hires for these types of positions summarizes what’s needed by saying, “An embedded role demands communication and collaboration skills above what’s sought in a typical IT employee. They must be willing to take the initiative, have good listening skills and be politically savvy in order to balance competing demands and requests.”

The recruiter went on to say, “They have to be able to focus on what’s best for the company as a whole. They tend to be bigger-picture people who are good at managing details. They can prioritize and be comfortable in no-man’s land as champion of the project…and not the champion of the business unit or of IT.”

Still interested? The recruiter noted that embedded members of IT typically have job titles like “business relationship manager” or maybe to a lesser degree “business analyst.” Annual salaries for these types of positions may be in the neighborhood of $100,000. The employees generally report into IT leadership, with dotted lines to executives or managers in the business function they support.

All to say, while we all put a tremendous amount of time, energy and focus on IT skills and certification practice, studying and training, there’s much more available in this incredible profession if you want it.

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