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Upgrade your IT skills or you will be left behind


newskill.jpgAs businesses respond to the growing pressures of global demand and increased competition, the skills required for IT staff are changing. Don’t think that change is only for the CIO. Whether you’re the VP of applications, a database administrator, or a help desk expert, your role is shifting whether you like it or not. Each IT role needs to broaden its focus to include business goals. Perhaps there is a need for newly created IT roles in the new world. IT staff now need to act as providers of hybrid IT services, including cloud and legacy applications.


Broadly speaking, the changes in IT affect these three areas:


  • Competencies and skill sets, including cloud technology, service management, and service delivery
  • The organizational construct of IT
  • IT processes


Cloud is the catalyst that is accelerating change throughout IT, removing inefficiency by enabling the delivery of automated services. If your job involves a manual operation, odds are it will be either automated or eliminated.


As I wrote in a previous post on the changing role of the CIO, IT needs to align with the business. In this post I’d like to address the new skills and organizational construct that enable that alignment. I’ll talk about the changes in IT processes in my next post.



Developing new competencies for cloud


Whether you’re a manager or not, the skills and competencies required for your job will change. You may not think your position is related to cloud, but in reality all IT positions are. Rich Blaisdell described in his blog post some of the top cloud skills employers are looking for.


You may be very good at managing components such as storage, servers, and networks. But how good are you at creating and managing services? People who work in IT need to evolve and deliver the services that the business needs. You can’t just think of server utilization; now you need to think about how fast you can deliver IT services in response to business demand.


For example, how fast you can set up email services for 300 summer interns? How confident are you that you can support the online promotion the marketing team is planning? How fast you can spin up a dev/test environment for your application developers?


The CIO and CEO need to look at the current IT base and understand what skill sets their people have, deciding whether to replace or retrain them. In many of the companies I work with, managers are electing to retrain, in part because it’s hard to find people with the necessary skill set. Not many IT professionals possess cloud service capabilities.


To act as an internal service provider to the business, IT needs to develop new measurement metrics. How do you define an SLA with the business? Rather than just measuring server utilization or network latency, you also need to include business metrics such as the cost of new customer acquisition and the inventory turnover ratio.


There are a number of questions you should address around vendor management: What are your key criteria in selecting an external service provider? You need to consider the capabilities and security of the product and the service. You may have to involve members of your company’s legal and security teams.


You also need to be think about the terms of your contract. If the third-party service goes down, what management tools do you have that allow you to see what’s happening? How will you be able to report progress on getting the service back up to the business?



Break down siloes to deliver services


The changing role of IT ties to structure and the relation of IT to the business. As part of its role as a provider of services, IT needs to build a connection to the business. In many organizations, business analysts (BAs) help align business needs with requirements for IT.


Now the BA role is amplified by cloud computing and the alignment of IT with the business. BAs can bridge the gap between IT and the business, linking the business problems with the technology solutions. In many organizations, BAs reside in the business unit and act as a liaison to IT. With the changing structure of IT, BAs can now reside in IT and liaison with individual business units.


In IT’s new organization, a service is powered by multiple components. To build those services, IT needs to do away with silos structured around components and align the components together to work as a whole, not in isolation.


The business demands service to be available, not just that the components function individually. When a critical business service is down, you need to know how to diagnose the service problem, not just monitor the components separately.


By developing new skill sets and organizing around services, IT can better help the business meet its goals. HP ExpertOne offers cloud learning plans based on job roles and level of expertise, as well as a range of professional certifications on data center and cloud. To learn how HP can help you transition to cloud, please visit



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