While the corporate world has its sights set on a digital transformation that enables the future of work, many IT organizations are not prepared for the business strategy skills that will be necessary to their survival.
It is crucial that business owners and managers alike think about how their technology teams can create new opportunities beyond sales. Companies should work to find new lines of business or optimize current processes to grow opportunities for the business overall.
But what skills will the workforce of the future need to grow these opportunities? How do you hire new employees or reskill current ones when you’re not sure what they’ll need to know how to do? Let’s walk through what capabilities your teams will need to have.
Because more business operations have become dependent on technology, technical leaders and experts must take more prominent roles in decision making. Doing so will help differentiate an organization’s ability to deliver a unique product, service, and experience. Delivering on that differentiation can require software development or the deployment of new processes. IT must make room for itself at the decision-making table.
That means that technology experts must get more familiar not only with standard business practices, but also with aspects like customer experience, product experience, and the competitive landscape.
Value also goes well beyond technology and business practices. IT teams can be thought leaders within an organization, drive key projects, and build strong relationships. By getting out of the wire closet, IT leaders can recommend cost-savings and innovations, advise on project approaches, and get close with business leaders. Remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know.
IT departments are generally viewed as cost centers: The average IT department invests 56% of its budget on maintaining business operations and only 18% on building new business capabilities. Deloitte predicts that technology teams will need to focus less on cost reduction and more on strategic investments that help increase revenue, growth, stock price, or other business-oriented key performance indicators.
Because technology evolves so rapidly, and frequently causes disruption, it’s imperative to the future of an IT department and its larger organization to keep a finger on the pulse of changes and innovations so they can act as a leading innovator in business transformation.
Measure and prove contributions
Tracking data and providing more metrics has been a core part of recent business transformations, and technology departments will not be able to escape this progression. It is key that leaders and experts in technology be able to measure their value and prove the bottom-line results they drive.
These proof points will be a culmination of becoming more involved in business creation and driving innovation. If you can’t show what you’ve done, have you really done it?
The skills teams need
What actual skills do you and your teams need to generate value, drive innovation, and measure your contributions? Let’s break it down.
Generating value goes hand-in-hand with being an effective leader and professional, regardless of whether a person is a people leader or an individual contributor. This means skills like critical thinking, emotional intelligence, strong interpersonal skills, business acumen, communication, and more. These are all skills covered in leadership and professional development courses.
Tech teams will also want to be well versed in DevOps to help improve communication, collaboration, and processes across development and IT operations, as this enables efficient development and delivers on value.
To drive innovation, one key area of knowledge is business analysis. Even technical teams will need to identify business needs and solutions to business problems, because you can’t dream up big, cutting edge ideas if you can’t figure out where a business needs to improve. And of course, technical teams will want to make sure they have the most up-to-date knowledge on topics like cloud computing, given the massive shift many businesses are making to the cloud.
Finally, for measuring and proving contributions, having background knowledge in data science enables your teams to extract key insights from data and put that information to work.
As the world of business evolves, so must organizations and their technical teams. Using these skills as a roadmap, you will be able to adequately reskill your existing employees and also hire those who will be able to bring your team into the future.