The evolution. of the IT manager

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1 The evolution of the IT manager

2 The move to service management Executives are turning more and more to IT to help their business swiftly adapt its processes to accommodate changing market conditions. Within the last few years, the pressure for an organization to deliver more for less has become increasingly intense. With the business environment changing at a dizzying pace, driven by globalization, business virtualization, outsourcing and other factors, organizations must become extremely agile to compete and survive. As demands proliferate for increased productivity and efficiency to drive ever higher profit margins, executives are turning more and more to information technology to help their business swiftly adapt its processes to accommodate changing market conditions taking place each day. In response, IT managers have continued to push down the cost of IT services while increasing the efficiency of companies for the last decade. As a result, these managers need to add yet more skills to their already overflowing portfolio of knowledge. In many ways, these times signify a turning point in the role that IT professionals are playing in modern enterprises. IT managers are now assuming a larger, more strategic role as their function becomes increasingly recognized as a vital prong in an organization s strategic success. The good news is that this pressure on efficiency has yielded innovative new capabilities over the years: Just-in-time inventory management and streamlined supply chains Decision-support systems allowing for faster strategic decisions based on real-time information around business performance Virtual IT organization The arrival of many of these IT services and capabilities has been another catalyst for change in the IT managers role with service management being one of the primary elements leading in the shift. Take outsourcing, for example. As large-scale business processes are disassembled into smaller components, many of these process components are distributed outside the enterprise. An example of this is automobile manufacturers who are disassembling their manufacturing processes and parceling out component manufacturing to offshore vendors that have lower wage rates. Enabled primarily by advances in technology such as the Internet, the low cost of communication, the move into more standardized applications, open IT platforms, and more integrated systems this evolution allows organizations to focus on the areas in which they can add the most value while relying on suppliers and partners to deliver the other components. Virtualizing is becoming a reality. Additionally, IT systems are transforming into virtualized environments, enabled by the convergence of the Internet, wireless networking, on-demand computing and service-oriented software architectures. Virtualization offers a far more efficient use of IT resources for lower cost, higher resource utilization and a greater ability to adapt to changing conditions. The distribution of business processes combined with the virtualization of IT architectures holds the promise of significantly increasing business agility, but at the same time complicates the management of IT resources. New business process-oriented solutions are required to empower IT organizations to ensure that IT dependent mission-critical practices stay up and running. The cloud is on the rise. In addition, the increasing use of cloud computing in the delivery of business applications alleviates hardware management but poses additional challenges for IT managers. This has been yet another catalyst for change in their role. With the advancement of this on-demand computing accelerating the virtualization of IT resources, the environment for IT managers is changing even more dramatically yet again. This evolving service-oriented software architecture is expanding the distribution of IT services both inside and outside the organization, making it ever more difficult to manage business processes and the IT resources that drive them. As more services are moved to the cloud, IT managers are becoming less in charge of managing onsite systems and increasingly more responsible for making sure services are delivered appropriately in terms of contracts or needs. In the last decade, management has increasingly turned towards using business intelligence, social networking, and non-relational databases to answer organizational questions. Furthermore, as the volume of unstructured data increases, it will become necessary to make this data part of the decision-making process which adds additional service challenges to an IT manager s responsibilities. Yet, if cloud technologies, virtualization and outsourcing are viewed as more efficient service delivery models that offer flexibility and a reduced expense cost model, the savvy IT manager can embrace the possibilities without sacrificing his or her growing leadership role in the organization. The IT manager is now poised to deliver quality IT services at a lower cost, putting him or her in a position to become the economic enabler of the competitive advantage many organizations seek. Global right sourcing A wide range of other online business models and IT services Therefore, the IT manager, as the manager of a portfolio of services, will need to evolve into a product developer one who can quickly create and deliver cost-effective IT services to the business. More importantly, the role of the IT manager must become less technical and more business-oriented as the use of services becomes the rule rather than the exception. 3

3 The evolution of the IT manager Changing as IT changes How can an IT manager stay current in technology while building the necessary business skills to deliver better IT services to his or her organization? The answer lies in finding a new understanding of the role of IT within the organization. For the IT manager who wants to achieve a top-notch level of service sophistication, it is no longer enough to be broadly literal in the many technologies that comprise a modern IT infrastructure. Today s IT managers must gain a deep understanding of their company s industry and organizational objectives, combined with an ability to understand IT portfolio management, project management, contract management, office politics and leadership. With such a formidable combination of skills, managers can align a strategic understanding of their company s business with the right IT service choices. Meeting the challenge means a change in perspective IT professionals need to understand the organization s business processes and how the components of the IT infrastructure support these processes. Since IT is a requirement for any successful business, it is vital that managers gain understanding and skills in the fundamental business processes of their market segment or industry, which ironically, must take precedence over technical skills. In many ways, the function is moving away from the IT specialist roles of the past 20 years and back towards industry subject matter experts who have enough IT knowledge to apply it in creative and innovative ways throughout the business. Today, the combination of expertise in a specific vertical industry and a general technical understanding is far more desirable to industry hiring managers than a deep proficiency in IT skills. Why does this work? Because in a market where general IT technical skills are easily obtained for relatively little money from a worldwide labor market perspective and the majority of IT systems and services are commodities in the cloud, real value comes from a deep understanding of how to apply IT to business problems which lead to solutions. By leaving the deep technical projects to IT specialists and outsourcers and using business skills to advance organizational objectives, an IT manager can help advance the transformation of business. Today s IT managers must gain a deep understanding of their company s industry and organizational objectives. 4 5

4 The evolution of the IT manager Tougher compliance requirements continue to intensify As regulations multiply and compliance pressures build, the IT manager s role also is morphing into one of a regulatory compliance agent. IT managers are not shielded from business demands because they are responsible for running mission-critical applications that cannot suffer downtime. Stricter regulations and compliance policies bring added pressures because downtime can cause operational glitches or even potentially lead to lawsuits and regulatory issues. There are numerous examples where IT managers are now being tasked with keeping up with changes related to privacy, compliance and support for litigation. Additionally, companies need to ensure that recordkeeping proves tasks are getting done. Lastly, forging strong partnerships with an organization s legal team is another relationship pathway that needs to be created. This surging importance of compliance tasks that now face busy IT managers cannot be emphasized enough. IT departments are on the front lines in the battle to ensure compliance with new and potentially crippling data security laws. This means IT managers are now participating in meetings with legal teams and CFOs. If broken, these new laws easily could bankrupt companies of all sizes in any industry. Thus, the pressure by CEOs on IT to ensure compliance and flawless security is intense. Business and IT synergy is essential The arrival of many of these IT services and capabilities has been another catalyst for change in the IT managers role with service management being one of the primary elements leading in the shift. As IT managers roles evolve, they are becoming more entrenched with their organizations and are being asked to help the business with tasks that are strategically important. Managers are now expected to be responsive in providing the business with reliable computing infrastructure while also providing the required support for new business initiatives. Business and IT success must be synergistic in today s tough business environment. Business units in organizations are under pressure to do more with less and they are turning to IT leaders to leverage new technologies that provide agility, automation and process improvement. Now, more than ever, IT and business functions need to partner to deliver solutions, not just technology. Because critical applications are hosted in today s data centers, IT managers are not only a service provider, but also a business enabler and must be an integral part of making the vision of an organization a reality. 6 7

5 Tips for hiring strategic IT professionals Good communication skills Flexibility Education The need for more strategic thinkers and leaders in the IT industry continues to rise. This helps to remind ourselves of what strategic actually means. Strategic refers to the what and why and tactical refers to the how. While the ideal candidate must have strong IT job skills, it s just as important, if not more so, that a potential employee will also save your organization money by spotting inefficiencies and using technology to not only streamline and eliminate problems, but also to challenge the status quo and suggest innovative new ways of conducting business. So what should you look for, in addition to technical skills, for when hiring for an IT position? Here are some tips that can serve as a guide: While it used to be typical for most IT professionals to work alone, today they need to collaborate more with teams from other departments. The candidate should be able to speak knowledgeably with technology experts while also being able to explain computer issues to non-technical employees who may not understand the technology at hand, but need to use the system. Problem-solving ability Computer systems are becoming more complex every day, and IT professionals need to be able to expand a system and make adjustments as needed or even anticipated by an organization. Additionally, IT professionals must be capable of quickly identifying a problem and fixing it a company s productivity and profits often depend on this. Finally, professionals must be logic-oriented and able to zero in on solutions and system improvements. Ask candidates how they have handled difficult problems in previous jobs and listen carefully to hear how methodical the candidate is when explaining how he or she solved the issue. From an IT perspective, managers often are on call and need to be ready to help reboot or troubleshoot an organization s computer system at night or on weekends. In fact, some companies require that IT job candidates live within an hour of the home office. If they work virtually, they must be just as available if an issue arises. From a strategic perspective, corporate strategy can shift rapidly according to market demands. IT direction needs to be able to quickly shift with it. With those two viewpoints in mind, ask your candidate how flexible he or she is and gain a sense of their true willingness to both be available whenever needed, no matter the day or time, and to be open to new and different approaches as strategy dictates. Look for a candidate with a bachelor s degree, work experience and professional certifications. However, a master s degree really will help separate a candidate from the pack. Your organization may prefer applicants who have an MBA with a concentration in information systems. IT job candidates with courses in finance, marketing, accounting, and management, as well as database management, electronic business, and systems management and design will sit higher on the strategic ability scale. Personality You want a person whose personality and nature fits in with your company culture with a history of stability and strong work relationships. A candidate who leaves his or her job every year is a no-no. While you need a good range of experience, you want to see stability in the candidate s job history. Another important personality feature is the willingness to learn. You might consider a candidate with less experience if he or she demonstrates a strong openness to learn on the job and an eagerness to learn more about the company, its business, and its competitive standing in the market. 8 9

6 The evolution of the IT manager Rapid changes in both the business and IT environments are creating enormous and exciting opportunities for businesses to build strong competitive differentiation. To seize these opportunities, IT professionals need to transform their role from that of technologists in a reactive mode to strategic value contributors who drive organizational responsiveness. Or, to put it another way, IT must transform its image from that of a service center functioning only to fix problems to a true business partner offering solutions. The emergence of new IT management solutions that truly collaborate with business processes are key to this transformation. In today s reality, IT managers must create an IT environment based on business-critical processes and ensure these processes remain up and running. The result is increased business agility, which translates into increased revenue and profit. With this combination, an IT manager will be able to stay competitive in the new business world order. To learn more about the evolving IT manager, or for more tips on hiring strategic IT thinkers and leaders, please contact your local Adecco Information Technology representative today

7 Adecco Staffing U.S. Adecco Staffing U.S. is the nation s leading provider of recruitment and workforce solutions. We are the preeminent workforce management partner for Fortune 500 companies and career advisement expert for American workers, serving all of the key industries and professions that drive our economy forward. Adecco has hundreds of career centers throughout the United States and, on any given day, connects 70,000 talented workers to the best job opportunities across the country, making us one of America s largest employers adecco adeccoitjobs.com 2012 Adecco. AMK2012IT

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