You probably know everything about your field but also acknowledge that things are changing around you. Look at the past and predict the future.
For an IT manager, change is the mantra of the day. On the one hand, you still have to deal with your silo-based information systems with their CLIs, RPOs and IOPS. On the other hand, there is pressure from the board to innovate by using cloud technology, DevOps and service design and experiments in order to remain competitive in the future.
Looking back to where IT came from, you can distinguish four platforms that each have their specific characteristics:
The first platform is very much technical. The IT manager bothered about scripting, waterfall development, IOPS, packet loss and response times. The people in his department were all specialists in their respective fields with in-depth knowledge about – for example – OS, storage or networking. Obviously, in this technical era, the IT manager was also a technical driven person who had the undesirable task to explain constantly to the business why something was not possible because of technical restrictions. At the same time, the business was happy to fingerpoint and call the IT department the “money spenders”.
The second platform is less traditional and focuses more on IT and organisational effectiveness. This platform is characterised by an integrated approach, using structured methods such as ITIL, BISL and hybrid infrastructures. Capacity, performance, security and risk are the major issues. The IT department is very busy keeping all the lights on every day. For the IT manager, organisational skills are key to support that. There is little time and opportunity for innovation.
The third and fourth platform are the typical platforms of the present and the future. By deploying innovations such as the hybrid cloud, competence centres for specific activities, automation and orchestration, and self-service portals, the IT department is able to focus on meeting customer expectations and boosting customer satisfaction. Companies that have entered this stage use the cloud as a means to an end, instead of the end itself. They know and feel the rhythm of the business and are seen as a credible business enabler as well as a business partner.
Seize the opportunity and become a credible business partner
Obviously, there are no strict boundaries between these four platforms. And, based on business requirements, there may always be a need for first platform skills, such as legacy applications and legacy functionalities that need to be maintained. The key here is to prepare for change by ensuring you and your employees gain the right skills.
Today staff need a T-shaped profile. Until now, the education system has been producing I-shaped students with deep disciplinary knowledge. T-shaped professionals however are characterised by deep disciplinary knowledge in at least one area, an understanding of systems, and the ability to function as “adaptive innovators” crossing the boundaries between disciplines.
The ‘I’ of the ‘T’ represents the deep knowledge of a person while the T-bar represents the ability to collaborate across a variety of different disciplines. In today’s, and tomorrow’s world, it is very important to be able to handle information from multiple sources, advance professional relationships across different organisations, contribute innovatively to organisational practices, and communicate with understanding across social, cultural, economic and scientific disciplines. That is the challenge for the IT manager today.