Some businesses seem to assume IT professionals are actual wizards—expecting them to miraculously resolve scores of IT problems or fix software at the snap of a finger. But IT isn’t magic: proficiency requires professionals to devote time, money, and energy so they can develop their expertise in what they already know while also keeping up with future, workplace-changing innovations. Only when they have the means can IT professionals make the real magic happen—through proactive innovation and technological implementation that improve workplaces and help future-proof businesses.
And IT professionals genuinely desire to improve their places of employment. According to the SolarWinds IT Professionals Day 2018 Survey, 41% of tech professionals would upskill to perform better on the job, while 21% would research new technologies, if only they had an extra hour at hand. Businesses that don’t want to be left behind should strive to carve out this time for IT professionals to perfect their craft, if they ever hope to keep up with the pace of change and maintain competitiveness in the future.
Business leaders need to unshackle their IT professionals, and allow them more opportunities to upskill, innovate, and onboard new technologies that would benefit the workplace. And this isn’t an invitation for CTOs to “tack-on” added responsibility to already overworked IT teams. Instead, businesses must give their IT teams the time and space to breathe, so they can weave spells to safeguard businesses against the future winds of change.
Activating IT to be proactive
As the de facto caretakers of a business’ tech operations, IT professionals are the most familiar with its inner workings—and therefore know where the latest technologies, like automation, cloud networks, or AI can make the most impact. But these technologies can’t simply be shoved into existing workflows and be expected to work—they must first be tested and observed for incompatibilities with current systems. Obviously, this takes time and IT resources. Business leaders should be ready to give those to their IT teams, if they ever hope to unlock the productivity boosts and cost efficiencies held within these technologies.
To achieve this, businesses must reduce the daily workloads and pressures on their IT teams. They can do so by implementing stricter workforce IT policies, extending resolution times, and tweaking IT team KPIs to also account for innovation and upskilling efforts. Businesses can further guide IT professionals towards rapid innovation by provisioning resources, such as funds or enclosed systems, where IT can test and break various technologies to their heart’s content, before pushing them live. Post-implementation, IT teams can leverage on those very technologies—such as automation to handle repetitive tasks and AI for more accurate troubleshooting—further slashing workloads and boosting time for the greater advancement of IT professionals.
These efforts don’t just ensure a business is technologically adept with the times, it also shifts the mindset and business impact of IT professionals. There’s now potential for them to move from being technical problem solvers to becoming business problem solvers—but that’s only possible if businesses empower their IT professionals and teams to proactively contribute towards innovation and the use of technology to improve the competitiveness and daily prowess of the business.
Leveraging IT to futureproof strategies
New innovations are constantly disrupting industries and businesses that lacked the foresight to anticipate such shifts in the business world. Business leaders who don’t have this in mind while crafting their long-term business strategies will risk having their future plans interrupted or even derailed by more technologically agile competitors. More than ever before, businesses need to tap into the vast repository of knowledge their IT professionals possess, and use that to create business strategies that account for the pace of technological innovation at every future turn.
This is only possible if businesses have done all they can to consistently empower their IT experts to remain skill-relevant and up to date with the latest innovations on the technological front. By working closely with their IT professionals, business leaders can also gain a deeper understanding of the possibilities created by upcoming consumer technological innovations—enabling them to spot areas of opportunities or gaps that their business can add value to in the future. This results in long-term business strategies that aren’t just adaptable to technological shifts or velocities of disruption, but also highly relevant to the needs of consumers in the years to come.
In essence, purposeful empowerment of IT professionals doesn’t just create near-term benefits, it also determines how well a business can adapt in the long-term. With today’s rapid pace of technological development, IT professionals have no shortage of material with which to work their magic, but they’re unable to do so without the support of the businesses they seek to improve. By doing their very best to upskill and improve the proficiencies of their IT witches and wizards, businesses stand to gain more than technological proficiency—they stand to become leaders of innovation, standing at the forefront of change and disruption.