The advent of the versatilist

Gartner calls them “versatilists” — and they are necessary in order to build agile teams.

These are IT specialists who have the “breadth and depth” of skills which allows them to work in multiple assignments, with different constituents, and different business units, says Diane Berry, research vice president at Gartner.

“Think of them as actors in a repertory company” who can move with ease from assignments and roles as needed.

She advises building a workforce around these “versatilists”.

“These people are more intertwined with the business [and] think about how information and technology can drive competitive advantage,” she says.

“The kind of work that we are doing is changing. We want to use people more strategically, be more creative in how we fulfil our needs,” she says.

One example of this is TopCoder which runs contests in computer programming. The competitors are paid based on the royalties of the sales of the software they have designed.

Another technology vendor uses “self-shaping teams”. They align different groups along different lines of business. If members want to move to another team, they have to backfill themselves.

It is a self managed team concept and gives the organisation fluidity because they can move staff and reconfigure as needed.

People are becoming more IT savvy, and she says this is changing the expectations and demands on IT more than ever. “They are not looking much at IT to turn the light on, but to help find revenue opportunities, to help drive revenue either directly or indirectly.

“Look at where the business is going, understand the business strategy,” she says, on steps CIOs can take. “Craft IT from a standpoint of what capabilities do I need to help drive business growth?”

For companies that are using cloud technologies, there is a need for cloud brokers or orchestrators who can negotiate with vendors and do contract management sourcing. Berry says there is also a rise in demand for virtualisation skills, driving social media, and “statistical people who can do information mining”.

Her advice to IT professionals in today’s shifting work environment: “Put together those core competencies and look at opportunities to apply the things you want to do. Pursue your passion, look for companies that are a match for you culturally.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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