By Rakesh Raman
At a time, when companies are trying to do more with less, technology has become a veritable backbone for efficient business operations.
Obviously, all corporate eyes are turning toward tech managers – CIOs for big enterprises and IT managers for smaller companies – expecting them to rise to the occasion and make an optimum use of IT (information technology) resources.
But are they competent enough to deliver? Most are not. Trouble with many CIOs and IT managers is that they’re used to working in a traditional way as if they’re still in the EDP (electronic data processing) environments of the 1990s.
Technology, however, has evolved – and is evolving constantly, almost at the speed of light. But most tech managers are stuck and sleeping. They are not ready to learn. If you want them to wake up and take charge, ensure that they’re equipped with these five skills.
1. Tech Knowledge
Today’s technology is not about backend resources only. Now, tech managers are supposed to think beyond just clients, servers, storage, and security. It’s no more just about an EDP room in the corner of the company’s building. Rather, tech managers are supposed to bring IT to the center stage and run the company as a complete digital enterprise.
So, along with the understanding of backend technologies, they need to have skills related to the latest mobile and Web technologies. As today’s businesses are supposed to follow the sun and always stay on, the use of mobile networks and Web platforms is inevitable.
Selection of need-based tech systems, their deployment, internal training on those systems, their integration with the business processes, and return-on-investment (RoI) analysis are all part of a tech manager’s job. They must be ready to acquire new tech skills and evolve constantly.
2. Business Communications
If they can’t communicate, they’re good for nothing. All tech managers should have complete grip on language (generally English language) and should be able to express the tech objectives in a simplified manner to all the stakeholders in the company. Written and verbal communication skills are equally important.
They should be able to customize their communications for internal workforce connected with the digital systems, buyers who interact with the company through Web interfaces, suppliers who expect the company to be responsive, resellers who want constant support, and top management that is always eager to know the RoI made on IT gear.
Plus, tech managers should know how to use e-mails efficiently even when they’re traveling. They can’t afford to sit on e-mails that are supposed to be replied. Those who can’t respond on time, give a bad name to their organizations. E-mail writing should be part of their training.
3. Marketing Acumen
Tech department is not just a cost center; rather it’s supposed to work like a profit center – fully integrated with the marketing activities of the company. It’s tech manager’s responsibility to help marketing heads devise the right marketing messages for the company keeping in view the company’s tech strengths to serve the customers and others.
In today’s information-driven world, marketing communications can make or break an organization. Companies can decide to dump all those executives who can’t communicate in a clear and flawless manner.
Moreover, when the business world is enamored with the hype around social networks, tech managers should be able to use Web and social media analytic tools to empirically evaluate the impact of social media marketing for their brands. They must also participate actively in all digital marketing efforts of the company.
4. Independent Thinking
Tech managers must be wise enough to buy IT systems that are actually needed for handling critical business applications. They should not blindly follow tech vendors’ advice and splurge company’s money on everything that vendors try to push.
To meet their own sales targets, mostly tech marketers try to sell terminology instead of selling technology. That means, old technology is sold with new names. It’s a tech manager’s responsibility to first figure out the real need of the organization and then take decision about fresh investments on IT.
For example, if the applications are running smoothly on an existing operating system, they should not buy a new one simply because their favorite company has launched a new operating system. Similarly, there is no need to replace the desktops with new laptops if the company’s applications don’t need mobility for the workers.
Tech managers should think to save money for their own organization instead of contributing toward the revenues of the tech vendors.
5. Future Planning
The business world of the 1990s has moved from static web of the 1990s to the present-day collaborative web. And the transition is imminent, as companies are ready to embrace the next-generation semantic web or the thinking web.
Tech managers must be competent enough to make an enterprise-wide strategy along with cost-benefit and RoI analyses to take the organization to the future tech era. Semantic web and online virtual worlds are some of the future areas that tech managers can decide to embrace for their organizations.
Similarly, as most companies have already burnt their fingers in the overhyped social networks without gaining anything out of them for their businesses, tech managers should stop spending any resources – time or money – on them.
After evaluation, they can go from public to private social networks to provide effective communication platforms to all stakeholders.
Tech managers’ job doesn’t end at mere deployment of tech boxes. They’re now supposed to create a tech culture in their organizations – a culture geared to meet the core business objectives and ensure organizational growth on all possible fronts.
If they can’t learn and move forward, it’s time for them to move out. And that’s the whole point.
By Rakesh Raman, the managing editor of RMN Digital.
This article is a part of our initiative: Tech-Wise Knowledge Center for SMBs.
You can also read: More Articles by the RMN Editor, Rakesh Raman