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As business and technology get intimate, IT jobs evolve

March 11, 2014

Step into any large corporation and you'll discover how information technology makes the world go round. The tight link between IT and the corporate world is creating—and shaping—IT job opportunities.

IT needs to better understand business and customers
As companies increasingly rely on technology for their operations, IT tools can be a significant differentiator, setting organizations apart for their ability to provide better services and seamless experiences for customers. CIO Magazine reported that the 2014 "Ones to Watch" (up-and-coming IT leaders identified by the CEO Executive Council) are focusing on ways to bring IT into closer contact with clients as part of an effort to better assist with business strategies. In other words, to help companies identify and implement the technological tools they require, IT professionals need to have the same insights into the customers the company serves as other business decision-makers.

To better orient IT services toward business objectives, many companies are seeking technical professionals who are also business-savvy. This trend extends beyond everyday IT jobs: According to CIO Insight, technology executives are also increasingly expected to give advice informed by financial and business insights. Because technology is such an integral part of business, facilitating and shaping almost all operations, IT decisions can have an enormous impact on the trajectory of the organization. Therefore, technology experts need to have a sense of how business works and how IT resources can help their companies achieve their goals.

Growing data and complicated systems
Technology is expanding and data resources are growing at an exponential rate. Consequently, managing networks and data resources has taken on a newfound importance—and has become much more complicated. To handle complex services that require top-notch security, many businesses are favoring ready-made services rather than custom-built solutions. As a result, the role of IT has evolved to encompass a greater emphasis on consultation and advising, rather than technical build. 

"We are faced now with fundamental decisions that feel more like buying services than the traditional orientation of building capabilities," Coca-Cola CIO Rob Cain told CIO Insight. "This also poses a huge talent and skills challenge—away from build and run, toward internal consulting and complex vendor management."

Data can provide valuable insights
In addition to drawing on corporate experience and greater contact with clients, IT professionals can use technological resources to gain crucial insight into the business world. Carrie Rasmussen, vice president of IT customer service and support for the grocery and drug retailer Safeway, explained to CIO Magazine that data analytics can help IT better understand external customers, allowing these departments to better plan IT resources in the same way that company leaders depend on business intelligence to optimize their marketing campaigns and make strategic decisions.

At the same time, because enterprise employees increasingly need to report on data and seek business intelligence insights for their own activities, IT support staff must have industry knowledge to properly implement analytical frameworks. As marketing specialist Anna Young explained for Business 2 Community, BI is no longer something that IT teams do in their own department. Instead, IT experts need to help businesses set up their systems and reporting capabilities so that employees and executives throughout the organization can create the reports they need and derive essential insights from data resources. 

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