Big Data and the cloud throw down the guantlet for IT department

IT/business alignment has gone from something you should consider to further your IT department to something you should do to keep your IT department employed.

OK, so remember how we used to mention IT/business alignment about every three pixels on this site? Well, it's baaaacckkk. Actually, it never went away. It just became, for a while, one of those topics that IT pros looked at and said, "I'll get to that right after I troubleshoot this DNS/DHCP conflict."

When we were started mentioning IT/business alignment, it was in the context of bettering-your-career-chances. Now we mention it more in the context of keeping-your-job-chances.

The opportunity for IT pros to become partners in the business and to help drive profits couldn't  be stronger right now. Although there will always be the need for those who "keep the lights on," IT stands poised to offer the greatest value to the business if you just take advantage of the opportunity.

Here's why

Data. What about it, you ask? Data drives the business. Gathering it, analyzing it, storing it, and keeping it secure-it's the key to business profit. And profit is the key to the heart of shareholders.

You'll be seeing a greater and greater push toward those with data expertise. IT pros who know how to mine data will be coveted. Those who know how to interpret data mining results for company executives may be able to write their own tickets. For example, how valuable to your company would it be if you could discern from data that a retail customer is more likely to purchase a particular product because his shopping pattern is similar to that of certain customers who purchase that product?

Don't get me wrong. Business leaders want to know that they can depend on their technology to do their daily work. Nothing will incur the wrath of a CEO faster than when email goes down.

Business owners are still interested in getting from point A to point B every day and they depend on working technology to allow it.  But more and more applications are running from virtualized platforms, so that deep attachment an IT pro has to an old physical server may not provide the job security he or she needs. A recent survey report released by IT consulting firm Avanade shows that globally 74 percent of companies are using some form of cloud services today. That number is growing everyday. Now is the time to adjust your worldview to that new horizon.

And the personnel that keep the desktops up and running are seeing that their help desk calls relate more to mobile devices. If you don't have anyone on your team who is up on smartphone usage and troubleshooting, then now is the time to push someone in that direction.

Even your web designers are finding that they have to be increasingly focused on SEO and their designs are guided by Big Data analytics that tell them more about customer behavior.

Your team's current knowledge of a particular type of hardware or coding language may have served it well up to this point, but it would be wise to encourage them toward becoming generalists. Their talents and knowledge will have to revolve around changing business needs and not vice versa.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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