Business Competence and Acumen of Information Technology Professionals

Business Competence and Acumen of Information Technology Professionals

Gregory Gleghorn (South Piedmont Community College, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6473-9.ch015
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There is an ongoing debate concerning information technology professionals and business competency skills. Conventional wisdom suggests IT professionals should first and foremost be proficient in all technical aspects and abilities with managerial, strategic, and soft skills as secondary. The business competence of information technology professionals may not seem to be a new technical or strategic development; however, the landscape of business has changed significantly. The information technology infrastructure is embedded throughout most organizations. Information technology and those responsible for IT can no longer afford to operate in a silo as they have in the past. Today's businesses rely more than ever on the technical infrastructure to provide scalability, functionality, and adaptability. The technical infrastructure is relied upon to help meet and assist with business operational, managerial, strategic, and competitive needs. This chapter examines the business competency of information technology professionals as a new development within IT.
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In contemporary business, business and IT alignment is one of the hot topics of the day and this is often in reference to a company’s Information Systems/Information Technology infrastructure, which includes the IS/IT staff, being properly aligned and aware of the Information Technology departments role within the business infrastructure and how IT affects business client relationships, business processes, competition, efficiency, productivity as organizations move through the various stages of Enterprise Architecture. Numerous research articles are available on this topic of the business competence of IS/IT professionals and the critical skills i.e. soft skills, which IT professionals may consider acquiring or enhancing.

D. A Benton in her book Executive Charisma (2003) cites a study that posits “people skills” explain 85 percent of personnel moving further along in their careers and technical competence accounting for only 15 percent (pp. xiv). Advertisements such as those found on career now market Business Acumen as a technology skill (career builder, 2010). Business acumen loosely defined is the ability to make profitable business decisions. However business acumen within IT projects for example, has not necessarily exemplified this definition. Failed IT projects have a rather significant financial impact. When the true costs are added up, as many as 80% of technology projects actually cost more than they return (Galorath, 2008). Nicholas Letch and Cherliyn Randolph conducted research by asking do the skills of Non-IT business graduates overlap with those of IT specialists. What Letch and Randolph found is “personnel in Accounting/Finance do not perceive capabilities that are traditionally in the domain of IT professionals to be particularly important in their jobs (2000).” This is interesting because business graduates are taught business skills that require business acumen. Therefore incorporating information technology as part of their jobs is seemingly just an extension of the curriculum. This may give the business graduate a slight edge over the IT professional.

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