Technical Aptitude Not Enough

Gartner has recently re-enforced something I've suspected for quite sometime: technical aptitude is no longer enough to secure a future for IT professionals. That should be a pretty scary statement for a majority of the IT folks out there who generally like to be left alone to do their own thing. Gartner is expecting the “emergence of a new breed of IT professional, the ‘versatilist', who will have technical aptitude, local knowledge, knowledge of industry processes and leadership ability.”

And equally scary to both IT professionals and business-types is this statement, “Gartner predicts that by 2010, six out of ten IT professionals will assume business-facing roles.” Can you imagine 60% of the your company's IT team interacting DIRECTLY with the business folks in your organization? That's going to be a very interesting transition for some people.

So why does Gartner predict this shift? It comes down to the bottom-line. “With versatilists on staff, business and service providers can stretch their personnel budgets further than they could with specialists.” It's hard to argue with that kind of logic. Labor is the largest expense for most companies so why not get someone with the skills of two people assuming you can find them. If Gartner's prediction turns out to be true, code jockeys are soon in for another surprise just after finally adjusting to the tech bubble burst. Now is probably a good time to look for a niche if you haven't already been moving in this direction. Here are the 4 areas of IT that Gartner has identified. If you're in IT, you might want to identify where you fit in today and where you want to be tomorrow.

1. Technology infrastructure and services. Opportunities in technology infrastructure and services, the foundation of the IT profession, will grow in service, hardware and software vendors-many in developing economies-and wane in user companies. Network design will remain strong everywhere.

2. Information design and management. Business intelligence, online consumer services, work enhancement initiatives, search-and-retrieval practices and collaboration all will grow in user companies, systems integrators and consulting companies. Linguistics, language skills, business and cultural knowledge, and knowledge management will be fertile ground.

3. Process design and management. IT professionals can look at process opportunities from three angles: competitive business processes, design of process automation and operational processes. The first will be the “sweet spot” for companies; the second, for software vendors; the third, for outsourcing vendors.

4. Relationship and sourcing management. Far removed from the traditional skills that IT professionals pursue, relationship and sourcing management will gain ground, demanding strengths in managing intangibles and managing geographically distributed parties with different work outcomes and cultures.

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1 Comment

  1. A very well thought out analysis. Many will argue against such, but any skill that is specialized and portable is at risk in world where distance does not matter much and wage gaps are high.

    For years, many widely experienced technologist with business savvy found trouble moving to new organizations, while often being held to high value in their existing employment. That biased seems to be shifting, and I think it is about time.

    Thanks for the perspective...

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