Colleagues and job seekers often ask me, as a CIO, what I’m looking for when it comes to hiring. I tell them, “I’m looking for ranchers, not pet owners.”
My response, while blunt, speaks to the changing nature of IT and how digitization and worldwide governmental mandates are changing how we approach our roles. We no longer have the time nor the resources for one-time unique “pet” projects without repeatability or reuse components. We need solutions that are template-based, repeatable, and easily scalable to meet rapidly changing business conditions.
My advice to peers and colleagues is to hire candidates with the skill sets to focus on economies of scale. Interchangeable solutions that can be replicated to meet whatever level of service your business demands are essential.
IT leaders should also be looking for professionals who are focused on automation and developing business processes in the cloud that can be easily turned on and off as business demands rise and fall. This creates seamless maintenance, increased performance, and cost certainty for organizations looking to effectively manage IT budgets.
Where is the focus?
Business operations and IT must be in lockstep to be successful in a modern digital economy. Disjointed priorities and poor communication can quickly lead to failure. To execute any global strategy effectively, a business needs IT and IT needs to know what the business is doing to plan accordingly.
As an IT leader, you must understand some basic business principles and ensure that your team members also understand these concepts and can successfully execute programs that lead to successful outcomes.
Here are three that should top the list:
Revenue management: Understanding business system integration and how revenue will be reported around the world is critical. The value and reputation of your company depend on getting this right.
Capabilities assessment: What is the maturity of your systems as it relates to scalability, security, disaster recovery, continuity, and more? What are your software development cycles and DevOps processes? Where are the gaps?
Data management: How is your data being managed? Who has access to the data? How do changes in process impact the validity of your data on a global basis? Data is a company’s most valuable asset. Understanding it and protecting it is IT’s highest priority.
The digitization factor
Why is all of this important? For the first time ever, business is behind the government when it comes to technology implementation. To a degree, we have always counted on government entities to be laggards and not capable of dictating terms and timelines to business. Those days are over. All across the world, new standards and mandates are being implemented and enforcement is stronger than it’s ever been.
Government entities are now requiring real-time or near real-time data. This is causing companies to pivot and adopt a centralized approach to their data, systems, business processes, and applications. Failure to centralize will lead to lower quality because every country requires data to be formatted uniquely.
This is unacceptable for most companies, which puts additional pressure on IT to quickly comprehend new mandates and regulations and manage them effectively. Doing this takes talent.
The world is changing quickly. Businesses are more reliant than ever on IT, creating internal stress. Meanwhile, governments around the world are investing in their own digital transformation, creating external sources of pressure. To meet this changing dynamic, IT leaders need to have the vision to strategize and the foresight to hire people who can consistently execute.
Hire ranchers, not pet owners. You’ll be glad you did.
[ Discover how priorities are changing. Get the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: Maintaining momentum on digital transformation. ]