How to avoid becoming IT road kill.

I had the delightful experience today of being interviewed for an upcoming article in CIO Canada magazine.  The topic of the interview was about hiring and recruiting for IT, including the skills I was looking for, the expectations of today's hires vs. 5 years ago, and most interestingly what a new employee could do in their first year that would make me excited.

I can't give away my full response here, but there is one area in my response that has been rolling around in my ponderbox since getting off the phone.  (You DO have a ponderbox, don't you?  It's the place in your mind where things roll around until you come up with an answer, or are distracted by something more perplexing.)

The question dealt with the changing career path of IT employees.

I'm not sure the interviewer expected the answer I gave him.

I started by quoting from a previous post of mine (The most important post on strategy you'll ever read) where I highlighted Geoffrey Moore's model of where CIOs should spend their time.

In short (because half of you won't click the link), Mr. Moore advises that CIOs need to channel their resources to projects, products and services that are both mission critical, but also highly differentiating for their organization.  The products that may be mission critical, but non-differentiating (think email) should be done, but likely farmed out.

The current offering of cloud services seem to coincidently provide options for today's CIOs.  Highly secure, highly available, and cost effective software, infrastructure and platforms can now be obtained as a service (at least the brochures say so... )

That leaves the CIO to staff his or her team with the skill sets to deliver mission critical and differentiating services and systems.

Which means that the skill set mix in the IT department needed today is different that the one that was needed five years ago... and will be different than what will be needed five years from now.

Which means that if I was a mail server administrator, I would likely consider learning some new skills in things like data analytics, business intelligence, collaborative technology, SharePoint administration,or network security and systems engineering. (There are a number of other skills on the hot list, but you get the point.)

Which means that the obvious career path for someone in IT today is one that involves you continually learning something new.  You have to learn to love learning.

The IT world is changing.

Are you coming along?

Even if you are in one of the career tracks I listed above, you can't stand still.

As Will Rogers once said "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

Being virtual road kill is no way to enjoy your career.

How has your career changed over the last few years?   What do you do to adapt and be ready for the next phase?


  1. How has your career changed over the last few years?

    I've gone from doing IT support, server administration to data analytics and business process evaluation.

    I agree Kevin, the IT world is changing....the problem is some people manage to dodge traffic for far too long ;)

    1. My theory is the traffic dodgers won't be able to keep up with the increase in traffic... their dodging days are numbered.

  2. Things have come a long way from word processing, file and print sharing and basic e-mail. It is not that it is trivial today, it is just that there is so much more and the basics have less business value from a differentiation perspective. Staying on top of it all and matching business innovation to technical innovation is where the value is today for IT leadership. The lights are important, but no one cares much about who turned them on.

    1. Thanks for the comment Doug.

      I like your comment "The lights are important, but no one cares much about who turned them on."

      It's a world apart from the one where technology is so well implemented the organization is doing remarkable things (enabled by technology) but the focus is on the outcome. Keeping the lights on is maintenance, but invisible technology is a strategic contribution.