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Discussion: Are Renaissance workers key to future success in e-business?

How do companies have to change their "people model" to succeed in e-business? See what a leading authority on IT human capital says and then share your thoughts.


If e-businesses must become more customer-focused to succeed, what’s the first step? According to Linda Pittenger, president and CEO of people3, a Gartner company and a human resources consulting firm, e-business should integrate IT with business. Part and parcel to that success is your ability to attract “Renaissance” workers—those with both business and IT expertise.

In this essay, Pittenger discusses the emerging labor landscape and explains what these Renaissance IT workers will expect.

After you read her assessment, share your opinions and suggestions by joining our discussion.

A new people model for e-businesses
By Linda Pittenger

I’m frequently asked the question “Does e-business belong to IT or to the business units?” The answer is “E-business belongs to the business: It’s an integrated strategy.”

A business’s capability to “virtualize” dictates the extent to which integration is achieved. Even the development of a simple informational Web site has raised the question of “Who owns what?” in many companies.

Companies are now looking beyond the transaction capability of Web technologies and searching for ways to more efficiently operate the business.

If the delivery model can be changed or supported by an e-business interface, companies can offer a more direct channel to the customer and experience, decreasing transaction and distribution costs while providing a higher level of satisfaction. According to Gartner, companies will improve their customer satisfaction rates by at least 70 percent through 2001 by developing consumer commerce strategies focused on fostering online customer relationships.

But what are the “people” requirements of such a tightly linked electronic business relationship thread?

While there is no question that the IT organization must become more consultative, the e-business will also need IT to integrate. The “siloed” approach to IT and operations, which focused on technical skills alone, won’t work in an e-world. And companies that don’t break and reinvent the old organization and skills models will fail in their e-business attempts.

Yet Gartner predicts 90 percent of all enterprises will approach e-commerce as an IT project rather than a new business opportunity during the next two years. These enterprises will fail to achieve the value projected for their investment.

A new e-business model
So how can the e-business structure and IT become more integrated? Here’s what the new e-business model looks like from a “people” perspective:
  • The e-business organization is typically a standalone organization composed of a mix of technical, business, and creative professionals. If e-business is a significant company strategy, the head of the e-business initiative likely reports directly to the CEO.
  • The e-business organization spans all areas of business operations and focuses on enabling these areas with an electronic interface supporting a single e-business strategy.
  • E-business professionals demonstrate a blend of technical and business skills. They are Renaissance workers with a range of skills that extends beyond technical acumen. Creative design skills are necessary for content designers. E-business professionals in a strategic management capacity understand both the systems infrastructure of the enterprise and the operations of the business, as well as emerging Web-based technologies.

What the Renaissance worker seeks in a company
Finding the people who have these Renaissance skills is daunting. Such resources are like gold to companies that need them. But what type of companies are these workers seeking out?

While such professionals are attracted to the challenges, money, and stock options of dot coms, as well as the flexible work environment, the first-generation dot-comers are now showing signs of tiring of the 24/7 workweek. Many are cashing out their stock options and joining more established companies.

Still, they are accustomed to and seek exciting environments that offer opportunities for personal and professional growth, as well as the earning power associated with risk.

Companies that want to succeed in e-business will recognize and utilize human capital strategies that enable people to succeed in an integrated business culture.

These companies realize that to succeed in e-business—to really make it work—they need new organization structures, redesigned processes, and the right people in the right jobs.
Now that you’ve read Pittenger’s assessment of the e-business employment landscape, do you agree that Renaissance workers and integrated IT are key to e-business success? If you agree, what can companies do to attract these workers? Share your comments in our discussion.

Linda Pittenger is president and CEO of people3, a human resource consulting firm and a subsidiary of Gartner. people3 provides “people solutions” for IT organizations through consulting, software, and research solutions.


If e-businesses must become more customer-focused to succeed, what’s the first step? According to Linda Pittenger, president and CEO of people3, a Gartner company and a human resources consulting firm, e-business should integrate IT with business. Part and parcel to that success is your ability to attract “Renaissance” workers—those with both business and IT expertise.

In this essay, Pittenger discusses the emerging labor landscape and explains what these Renaissance IT workers will expect.

After you read her assessment, share your opinions and suggestions by joining our discussion.

A new people model for e-businesses
By Linda Pittenger

I’m frequently asked the question “Does e-business belong to IT or to the business units?” The answer is “E-business belongs to the business: It’s an integrated strategy.”

A business’s capability to “virtualize” dictates the extent to which integration is achieved. Even the development of a simple informational Web site has raised the question of “Who owns what?” in many companies.

Companies are now looking beyond the transaction capability of Web technologies and searching for ways to more efficiently operate the business.

If the delivery model can be changed or supported by an e-business interface, companies can offer a more direct channel to the customer and experience, decreasing transaction and distribution costs while providing a higher level of satisfaction. According to Gartner, companies will improve their customer satisfaction rates by at least 70 percent through 2001 by developing consumer commerce strategies focused on fostering online customer relationships.

But what are the “people” requirements of such a tightly linked electronic business relationship thread?

While there is no question that the IT organization must become more consultative, the e-business will also need IT to integrate. The “siloed” approach to IT and operations, which focused on technical skills alone, won’t work in an e-world. And companies that don’t break and reinvent the old organization and skills models will fail in their e-business attempts.

Yet Gartner predicts 90 percent of all enterprises will approach e-commerce as an IT project rather than a new business opportunity during the next two years. These enterprises will fail to achieve the value projected for their investment.

A new e-business model
So how can the e-business structure and IT become more integrated? Here’s what the new e-business model looks like from a “people” perspective:
  • The e-business organization is typically a standalone organization composed of a mix of technical, business, and creative professionals. If e-business is a significant company strategy, the head of the e-business initiative likely reports directly to the CEO.
  • The e-business organization spans all areas of business operations and focuses on enabling these areas with an electronic interface supporting a single e-business strategy.
  • E-business professionals demonstrate a blend of technical and business skills. They are Renaissance workers with a range of skills that extends beyond technical acumen. Creative design skills are necessary for content designers. E-business professionals in a strategic management capacity understand both the systems infrastructure of the enterprise and the operations of the business, as well as emerging Web-based technologies.

What the Renaissance worker seeks in a company
Finding the people who have these Renaissance skills is daunting. Such resources are like gold to companies that need them. But what type of companies are these workers seeking out?

While such professionals are attracted to the challenges, money, and stock options of dot coms, as well as the flexible work environment, the first-generation dot-comers are now showing signs of tiring of the 24/7 workweek. Many are cashing out their stock options and joining more established companies.

Still, they are accustomed to and seek exciting environments that offer opportunities for personal and professional growth, as well as the earning power associated with risk.

Companies that want to succeed in e-business will recognize and utilize human capital strategies that enable people to succeed in an integrated business culture.

These companies realize that to succeed in e-business—to really make it work—they need new organization structures, redesigned processes, and the right people in the right jobs.
Now that you’ve read Pittenger’s assessment of the e-business employment landscape, do you agree that Renaissance workers and integrated IT are key to e-business success? If you agree, what can companies do to attract these workers? Share your comments in our discussion.

Linda Pittenger is president and CEO of people3, a human resource consulting firm and a subsidiary of Gartner. people3 provides “people solutions” for IT organizations through consulting, software, and research solutions.

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