A unique master’s degree is helping senior IT professionals tackle one of the hardest tasks in the profession – leading a business transformation project.
IT leaders that are poised to transform need to do more than keep technology running – they must also learn to re-invent their IT operations.
Those who haven’t led these types of projects will almost certainly be asked to drive one soon. Analyst firm Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda report found that almost half of organisations around the world have changed their business models, or are in the process of changing them.
Gartner has titled this shift the ‘third era of IT’. The firm asserts that focus within IT departments started with technology, then shifted to processes, and is now prioritising business model adaptation through large-scale digital business projects.
New IT skill set
For IT leaders this creates a need to merge technical plans, business strategy and new expectations relating to digital product and services delivery. Gartner’s message to senior IT leaders is to become more familiar with the business strategies behind IT projects. “CIOs must evolve their thinking to be in tune with this new era of rapid increases in the scale of digital business,” the firm states.
Doing this is only possible if IT leaders collaborate across a business. That means building cross-disciplinary teams that scale and adapt as projects evolve, incorporating staff and suppliers from around the world.
While they transform businesses and build teams, they’ll also need to avoid inadvertently introducing new risks, be they financial, related to cyber-security, or driven by regulation.
In reality, a significant number of organisations are not yet comfortable working closely with IT in these areas. According to Gartner, “most organisations are stuck in a culture of change-resistant silos and hierarchies.”
To break down those silos, IT leaders will need to be good team-builders and communicators.
These aren’t just analysts’ theories – recruiter Hays also says employers are looking for people with communication skills. The company sees employers “who are no longer just looking for professionals with the desired technical expertise. Added to this they now want relevant industry experience, demonstrable business acumen and good communication and interpersonal [skills] to help an organisation navigate future business challenges,” said Adam Shapley, Senior Regional Director for Hays Information Technology.
Some IT professionals struggle to demonstrate their mastery of such skills.
Enter Deakin University’s postgraduate IT degree for experienced IT professionals, which aims to address this situation. The University’s Master of Information Technology Leadership degree allows students to gain credits for leadership skills, including teamwork and communication. Deakin was the first university in Australia to offer a degree of this type.
For IT managers that have focussed on technical achievements throughout their careers and now need to lead by working in cross-functional teams, this type of postgraduate study is a sound strategic career move.