IT professionals must rapidly learn new skills in order to compete and be successful in the IT industry. However in today’s business world, IT value and success is driven less by technology and more by interactions and relationships. There are specific skills IT professionals must command in order to succeed today. These skills include:
1. Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
2. Financial Management
3. Innovation and Collaboration
4. Marketing and Communication
These five skills can be difficult to acquire. In addition, they come less naturally to an IT professional than do technical skills. However, an IT professional who acquires and applies these skills to their daily work operations will be better prepared to thrive in the business world today.
Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills
From a technical perspective, many IT professionals already possess critical thinking and analytical skills—They tend to be natural problem solvers. However, they must apply these problem-solving skills to the appropriate areas, process, and management.
Most IT professionals embrace change in the form of new technology. However, IT professionals tend to be unwilling to change their ways of handling day-to-day operations. This is where critical thinking and analytical skills must be applied.
The technical component of financial management is important, and involves learning how to read financial statements, understand investment portfolios, and how they affect their business. Financial management is one of the primary methods used to manage the daily operations of an IT firm. For almost any organization, activities and decision making revolves around a company’s financials. However, most IT professionals consider financial management only when they want to get a project funded. To be successful, an IT professional must learn financial skills and integrate them into their operational management model. Financials should be of primary importance for driving the IT organization.
Innovation and Collaboration
While innovation and collaboration are the greatest drivers of technology, many IT organizations lack these important skills. This is due to the complex nature of IT organizations. It can be difficult to innovate and collaborate, especially when we don’t speak the same “technical dialect” as the person we’re trying to collaborate with.
Innovation occurs through collaborative efforts when a business has problems that must be solved. However, it’s difficult to be innovative and collaborate when only performing at a technical level. IT professionals must master these skills, and develop the ability to inspire others to see the opportunity and their role in achieving it.
Marketing and Communication
IT professionals must sell themselves, their services, and their value to clients. However, clients and prospects are always comparing an IT company’s services with those services from new competitors. IT professionals must understand how their services compare to competitors, and identify differentiators that make them better.
Most IT professionals speak the “language of technology,” but to sell, it’s important to speak in terms of service and value that business people can understand. A prospect must understand how an IT service produces business value before they’ll consider it.
Some of the most influential leaders in the world have been those who took the lead when no one was following. Leadership involves inspiring others to act on a vision. In actuality, there are leadership skills in all the skills that have already been mentioned. In order to lead, an IT professional must have a vision, and communicate it clearly to others. It’s impossible to lead others without a clearly defined destination.