4 attributes of successful IT professionals

After several years of stagnant economic growth where companies kept a watchful eye on all costs, there are some signs that, at least for IT organizations, the ice is beginning to thaw.

A recent Computer Weekly survey of 334 IT executives, found, found a 13% increase in companies reporting that they would be hiring IT professionals in the next 12 months. This is thought to be a result of businesses starting to launch new products and services that require IT support after several years of low investment levels in IT.

The survey, not surprisingly, found that core skills like programming & application development and project management were in highest demand followed by a mix of specific technical skills such a business intelligence & analytics, cloud computing & SaaS, security, and virtualization.

But apart from these core skills and knowledge of specific technologies, what are the attributes that make an IT professional stand out from the crowd? Here are 4 that we believe are necessary in today's IT organization.

Attribute #1: Business-focussed:

Hey, we’re the IT department – aren’t we supposed to focus on IT? It’s not just about the technology it’s what the technology allows the business to do. The whole point of the IT department is to enable (or drive – see attribute #2) business strategy. These are cash conscious times and companies need to ensure that any investment of time and resources really generates bang for the buck. IT organizations are expected evaluate how technology choices impact on both business strategy and the bottom line – and pet projects or wanting to push the boundaries just for the sake of it really have no place in today’s IT organizations.

What’s the expected return on investment? Are there other alternatives that would work equally well? Will the solution scale in the long term or is it just a short term fix? How will the technology work with the culture of the organization?

Attribute #2: Strategic:

IT is playing a much larger role in driving strategic innovation in today’s enterprise. It’s a far cry from the days where IT was seen as merely enabling business operations – now IT itself can be a source of new services and products. New technology can enable operational models that had previously been impossible. This is even giving rise to new business models (think of the impact that the growth of the internet has had on disrupting established companies). The forward thinking CIO understands the "art of the possible" and can identify ways to drive the business forward by not just enabling but proposing innovations that drive new revenue streams.

Attribute #3: Pragmatic:

Today’s business reality demands pragmatic thinkers who can weigh up sometimes conflicting demands and look at what they can achieve given the time, money and resource constraints involved. The pragmatic IT professional focuses on delivering to the best of their abilities within those constraints and communicating clearly with the business about what trade-offs are being made.

Attribute #4: Persuasive

Persuasion might sound like something better left to the advertisers and marketers of the world, but the ability to persuade people to influence outcomes is a critical skill that IT professionals need to master. It means being able to communicate effectively about the pros and cons of one approach versus another and help others to see your point of view.

Are there other attributes that today’s IT professionals need? Let us know by leaving a comment!