IT Staffing Is Key to Business Success


By Samuel Greengard

CIOs clearly have their hands full with juggling today's fast-changing enterprise technology—along with BYOD and a spate of trends that intersect with the enterprise, including social media, cloud computing, big data and the growing use of consumer technology.

Suffice it to say that it's not your father's IT department. Navigating this environment requires different thinking, but also an entirely different approach to IT staffing. The need for technical bits and bytes expertise hasn't gone away, but there are new staffing requirements that cannot be ignored.

Social media is a perfect example. The dial has slid way beyond the simple need to respond to tweets and Facebook posts. Full-fledged social collaboration—understanding how to facilitate knowledge sharing and how to store, manage and retrieve data (and metadata)—is now an essential enterprise skill.

But it doesn't just materialize.

Consider: a May 2013 study conducted by consulting services firm Avanade found that IT executives overwhelmingly report using social collaboration at work (77 percent says they rely on the technology) yet these same business and IT leaders have a false sense of accomplishment. Few have moved beyond Twitter and Facebook, which lack enterprise collaboration features, the Avanade research found.

The same type of disconnect exists in a number of other areas, including mobility, crowdsourcing, big data and cloud integration. As a result, many organizations are setting for a 1+1+1=3 equation when a 1+1+1=10 result is possible.

Ironically, the type of thinking—and IT staffing—required for this new order is based on more than computing and IT knowledge or casual familiarity with a particular subject. It's a journey into disciplines such as sociology, psychology and anthropology. Achieving the 30,000-foot view also means that IT must transition from an entity that primarily deploys and manages assets to a strategic integrator and orchestrator of systems.

The upshot? CIOs must re-examine and reinvent the way they find and manage IT staffing—and develop expertise. They must create new hiring categories and new positions. In some cases, an enterprise might require hiring bright people that do not come from an IT background but possess the intelligence and mental flexibility to learn about information technology.

In the end, CIOs and other IT leaders who succeed are likely to engineer an IT organization that understands the business as well as business leaders understand the business. They are far more likely to connect the technology dots and unleash a level of creativity and innovation that's vital for today's digital enterprise.