IT Managers: Survival of the Fittest

Opinion: IT professionals have to be the most victimized group by forced adaptation over the past decade.

Professionals of all kinds must learn to adapt to changes in their job requirements that are the result of forces beyond their control. But some professions change more than others.

For instance, when I first broke in to journalism, people I worked with who formerly set hot type were being retrained on paste-up and, later, desktop publishing. Nowadays, newspaper and magazine journalists must master the fine art of online news merchandising and brand management and pick up some AJAX skills along the way.

/zimages/2/28571.gifWhile tech pros may feel more secure about their jobs than the workforce as a whole, ongoing concerns keep their exuberance in check. Click here to read more.

IT professionals have to be the most victimized group by forced adaptation over the past decade. First, many IT jobs have been eliminated, and many of those remaining jobs have sailed overseas. Professionals left behind are now finding themselves in a scramble to align themselves with the current evolution of business and technology. It is, indeed, survival of the fittest.

But what skills are necessary? What combination of experience and new know-how will be required in the next stage of IT professional development? eWEEK has put together its own list of IT traits—or DNA, if you will—for the evolving IT manager who aspires either to secure his or her career or take it to a new level.

It should come as no surprise that the IT manager of the future will be "all of the above." "The blended asset will be in demand in the future—a combination of business and project management and administration skills," Steve Pickett, vice president and CIO of Penske, in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., told eWEEK.

Greg Smith, author of "Straight to the Top: Becoming a World-Class CIO," instructs readers to never just focus on the technology side of things. Smith told eWEEK Editorial Director Eric Lundquist in a recent podcast that one important lesson is "business acumen"—communications skills and learning the language of the finance manager. In other words, get an M.B.A. to put yourself on an even footing with other corporate executives.

In addition to Smiths call for business acumen, todays designer IT guy needs to become "outsource-proof." In the global economy, there are few jobs that cannot be outsourced. One key here, however, is being able to embrace outsourcing and learn how to negotiate the global marketplace and to use it to your advantage.

/zimages/2/128936.gifTo listen to an interview with Greg Smith, author of "Straight to the Top, Becoming a World-Class CIO," click here.

As important as business skills are, its also vitally important to keep up with technology developments. This may seem obvious for "old school" IT managers, but, for new ones coming in who may have more of a business background than a technology background, its imperative to know the products on which they will be advising their companies.

Its a tall order, indeed, but considering the unique set of skills required, those people who acquire them will find themselves in demand. What seems like a dim view of the future is really one of opportunity—for those who prepare themselves.

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eWeeks Editorial Board consists of Jason Brooks, Larry Dignan, Stan Gibson, Scot Petersen and Lisa Vaas.

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Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...