The New IT Benchmarks

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2008-06-13 Print this article Print

title=Tech Instinct} 

Tech Instinct

One priority that will never change is that CIOs and IT managers want their departments to be filled with people who are passionate about technology.

"For me, the primary determinate is the geek factor," said Steven Barnes, the director of systems and IT security at a Fortune 1000 retail company. "I want to know how much do they love the technology and if it is a major part of their daily lives."

That said, CIOs and IT managers no longer need pure techies-people who can solve technical problems brilliantly but might fail to fulfill internal business needs.

"When IT was about technology, you just did what the vendor needed," said David Foote, co-founder and CEO of Foote Partners, which monitors IT benchmarks and skills pay. "But then the world started asking for more than just technical people."

Yet solid technology knowledge has not gone the way of the dinosaur. Instead, organizations are hoping for IT professionals whose knowledge of technology is almost part of their DNA, and who have the ability to make that translate into business language.

"[Organizations aren't] looking for the usual list of soft skills, such as leadership qualities and the ability to work on teams," said Foote. "They want repetitive training like in the Olympics-to do something enough times that you no longer need to think about it. ... And [they're looking] not just for people with technical chops, but with good instincts about your industry who can get your business into new markets ... and be able to build the right technology to get you there."

This kind of flexibility can take the IT professional in and out of the IT department-through business, marketing or any other group that benefits from technology, all in an effort to make it more applicable. This requires a person who cannot only  multitask but can also think in multiple ways.

"One of the things is nimbleness of mind," said Sean Ebner, regional vice president for the Western region of Technisource, an IT staffing company. "What I'm seeing from IT managers and senior managers and IT executives is that they want an ability to traverse the organization, with both a deep knowledge of certain platforms but also an ability to understand different aspects of that life cycle, from testing to implementation."

IT recruiters say these can be the hardest people to find.

"We are finding that there is an ever-increasing scarcity of not just technical people, but people who have the competency to learn the things that they're going to need to learn next," added Ebner.


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