IT/Business Hybrids on the Rise

Susan Hall

Foote Partners' latest skills report highlights the rise of hybrid business/IT professionals, folks co-founder and CEO David Foote refers to as "walking Swiss army knives" in the enterprise.


He says:

Countless new combinations of knowledge, experience and skill sets that would not have been associated with IT departments and workers with traditional IT duties and responsibilities are now considered mainstream as a new breed of IT professional. This is feeding a corporate preoccupation with both skills acquisition and the hiring of non-traditional IT professionals in a big way.

He says this crosses every department, function, line of business and product group as they try to best figure out how to use technology to increase revenues, build market share and customer satisfaction, control costs and generally remain competitive in their industries. You might find these people as marketing specialists, sales engineers, logistics analysts and even vice presidents of operations.

Technology and business skills have in effect collapsed into each other, creating legions of what our firm refers to generically as hybrid IT/business professionals. ... Even traditional IT jobs have been reshuffled and substantially redefined with new skill requirements and aptitudes, even though many times the job titles have remained unchanged. Globalization and competitive pressures have accelerated the popularity of hybrid IT/business professionals ... It's driving HR crazy, especially compensation managers who have to figure out who these people are and how to set pay to appropriate market levels. ...
It is the variety of skills combinations-business, tech, process, subject matter expertise-that may account for the difficulty in pinpointing hybrids in labor reports and analyses as the new breed of IT professional. But that is at the heart of their value to the enterprise. ... They are walking Swiss army knives at a time when, to be effective, having a stem-to-stern view of the work at hand, whatever it might be, is probably as important and maybe more important than a deep specialization in any one element.

Meanwhile, my colleague Ann All has sung the praises of generalists as CIOs, in tech and in business intelligence

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