Usually, people who are successfully able to straddle both business and IT worlds are the ones who have a technical background, but have developed an understanding of business through experience. Someone who has worked on a particular set of applications for a period of time will tend to naturally gain an understanding of the business implications of their work. That’s a good starting point for you to easily apply your knowledge in the business world.
It is considerably more challenging for someone to transition from a more business-specific background to IT, which may require specialised technical knowledge. Gone are the days when IT was purely managing applications and Infrastructure. With new roles such as ‘Chief Digital Officer’ becoming increasingly common, the industry is looking for people who can translate the capabilities of IT into driving the business. The new “digital” approach focuses on customer experience, a user-centric approach, and decoupled architecture to name a few. Some companies are even merging CIO (Chief Information Officer) and CDO (Chief Digital Officer) roles, because nowadays the IT that’s relevant to a business is more digital than technical.
To get a deeper understanding of the IT systems, you’d need to invest around three to five years into working closely with internal IT teams. While you can continue to be part of the business teams, you could start getting involved in IT project management, where you could try your hand at overseeing a project from start to finish.
Weekly and monthly governance meetings can help you understand the intricacies of the technology work and the way it is getting executed. Keep an eye out for potential pitfalls along the way, as well as the timelines for delivery. Your perspective will add in hordes of value in making sure the project meets the company’s stated business goals through this project.
I spent about 10 years in core IT before transitioning to a more business-related role. I started by managing different projects and understanding the overall project life cycle. This included translating the vision of the project into IT components, planning and executing the delivery, and ensuring that the project is delivered on time. I was also involved in budgeting, meeting (or even beating) the defined KPIs, and managing the people who were executing the project.
From a few projects, I gradually moved on to managing clients and portfolios. Given my deeper understanding of technology, the transition was smooth and successful.
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