Five tips to help the 'new IT crowd' stay on top

IT pros must not neglect business skills

The role of the IT professional is changing – with 86% of business leaders now recognising IT as a strategic priority, CIOs have never been more in demand, or indeed more under pressure. Fortunately, in this article we've got five top tips to help the 'new IT crowd' meet these fresh demands…

1. Stay connected

Nowadays, the successful IT professional needs to be a hybrid technological expert and business strategist. To be truly effective, you need to get under the skin of how your business works and think about where IT can improve it. By keeping your ear to the ground via networking and collaborating across different functions, listening to suppliers and customers, keeping informed about the competition and looking for gaps that the business (and IT) can resolve, you can help your organisation develop a competitive edge.

2. Earn your keep

The high cost and complexity of IT makes it even more important for the new IT crowd to be commercially savvy and 'think business' by maximising cost efficiencies. The new IT professional runs their P&L like their own business. They manage suppliers and costs astutely, analyse business results to constantly find ways to optimise performance and are always looking for opportunities to improve.

They are also innovators and early adopters, looking for new tools and opportunities to collaborate with others, to bring real-time value to their business.

3. Find new ways to simplify complexity

In a world where technology is constantly changing and evolving, your raison d'être is to bring calm and clarity. New IT products and services are being launched all the time across a constant stream of new devices, applications and gadgets to tempt your users with the next must-have item, as well as an increasing array of suppliers offering their services to deliver them.

Can you keep up? What is right for your business? Your role is to simplify the complexity. Being able to see the wood for the trees is what will really benefit your business and add value. Outsourcing and sharing services are great ways not only of reducing costs, but also of creating unprecedented new ways of working, collaborating, sharing and innovating.

4. Ensure data security is on the wider agenda

Employees increasingly want flexibility and choice in how, where and when they work to achieve a better work/life balance. The increasing demand to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in the workplace certainly has clear benefits for the user and organisation, but the issues of device and data security have become a priority for many organisations.

Take control of your IT infrastructure by working with users and the business to create strategies, policies and preferred applications to maximise success and minimise risk.

5. Skill up – one at a time

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change" – Charles Darwin.

We're living in an increasingly fast-moving, competitive and exciting world where change is normal. In order to stay ahead of the competition you need to constantly adapt and evolve your own professional skills. Making the transition from a technical role to an increasingly managerial and strategic one is not easy.

The future-proofed IT professional needs to have a new set of skills not traditionally associated with IT. They need to be expert communicators, personable networkers, team players and inspiring visionaries. You have to respond to the needs of the business and evolve your skills accordingly. Task yourself with learning one skill at a time. Acquiring a whole new set of skills can be overwhelming and ineffective, so focus on learning one new skill well.

  • David Langhorn is Head of Corporate & Large Enterprise at Vodafone