Be a Consultant, not an Order-Taker
Increasingly, CIOs and those with hiring authority are looking for technology professionals with more than just technical skills. Whether or not you’re hustling up work as an independent contractor or hard at work in the technology department of an organization, there is significant value in being a performance consultant versus simply an order-taker.
An IT professional who thinks and behaves like a performance consultant proves his value in the company by not only pointing out the newest and greatest technological innovations, she points out how those tech tools can be leveraged with existing networks and systems to elicit the greatest value and performance for the organization. That requires knowledge of the end user, the company’s culture and a foundational business acumen that likely should encompass knowledge of the industry in general. The industry I refer to is not the technology industry. Many IT professionals don’t work directly for technology companies, but with technology in organizations in health care, finance, education, real estate or some other specialized service.
As an IT pro, you may have been called on to get the company’s LMS (learning management system) up and running. You may have had to teach the training managers how to load content onto the system or had some other part in the implementation of your organization’s online university. Take advantage of the courses in that LMS. They’re there for every employee. Taking a class or two in business or finance fundamentals may introduce you to a different way of thinking about the functionality of your company’s IT systems, how to optimize them to boost the overall performance of business operations company-wide, and it is these types of solutions that draw the eyes and ears of the boss when it comes time for a promotion or raise.
Taking advantage of your organization’s training offerings also can provide you with the right language, enabling you to communicate with the buzz words and vernacular particular to your industry and its areas of concern. A recent survey of chief information officers conducted by Robert Half Technology said that there is an increasing interest in business knowledge when assessing IT professionals’ qualifications. Some 41 percent of the 1,400 executives surveyed said they’re more interested in a candidate’s aptitude in marketing, communication and finance today than they were five years ago. So don’t wait for the higher-ups to give you work. Don’t be an order-taker. Expand your point of view. Be proactive in your training efforts. Get specialized if you have significant interest in a certain technology, but don’t neglect what the hiring folks want: the business skills that add real value to technical competency.