The IT specialist: at last part of the company?
IT specialists and developers have long known it: the organization where they work stands or falls on their knowledge and creations. Gradually, the rest of the company is catching on to this, and IT is evolving from an unknown and unloved cost item into a much-valued partner. A good thing, that’s for sure, but this evolution gives rise to its own challenges.
If the Covid pandemic has had one bright side, it is that the IT specialist has been given his or her rightful place in the spotlight. IT departments worldwide ensured, during the lockdowns, that companies continued to function and everyone began to see the power of digitalization. Even the most stubborn business leaders put digital transformation on the agenda.
1. More than a cost item
People are gradually realizing that IT can be more than the department that keeps critical applications running and resets passwords. In close collaboration with the business, developers can make life easier for colleagues in other departments, render processes more flexible or robust, and improve the customer experience.
Greater appreciation: super! But that also means that more and more people are knocking on the doors of your department. As a manager or developer, there is a good chance that you have recently come across colleagues you had never met before. Suddenly, they have specific questions for which they expect you to have the solutions.
And probably you do. An RPA implementation can help Marie Claire in accounting, a simple chatbot linked to the product database would come in handy for the marketing team, and why should the trusty workhorses in sales not have access to their customer records from their phone? These sorts of digitalization projects increase productivity and, if they are carried out properly, satisfaction.
2. Who wants what and why?
But what does Bertrand in accounting really want? You can’t expect him to have the requisite IT knowledge to be able to translate his question into your language. So it is up to you, more than ever, to speak the language of the business. When you write code in a hurry, without knowing exactly what Bertrand hoped to achieve, no one will be happy.
Of course you don’t have to know everything, but a vague idea of what your company does and what challenges your colleagues face, can be very helpful. That way, you can already anticipate new functions, or realize immediately that a certain question is a one-off and another project has the potential to change once and for all the way the accounts are kept.
3. A chat with impact
What exactly does that mean? Your IT skillset is very valuable, no one doubts that. But what if you could combine that knowledge and experience with a modest background in other aspects of a modern company? You don’t need to take any extra training for that. A conversation with a colleague in which you really seek to discover what he or she does all the living day, can often provide you with knowledge that will remain relevant throughout your entire career. Perhaps that can even happen during a substantial business lunch, for which you of course bring in the receipt.
A welcome side effect is that there is every chance that this knowledge will soon come in handy in your work. Users are more satisfied and you need to make fewer adjustments because the original project description was unclear. Developers and managers have been treated as aliens with an important but incomprehensible job for too long. Increasingly, however, colleagues now understand that IT can be useful to them. It’s up to you to take up the gauntlet and initiate the conversation.