Creating Black Belts of IT

One thing I’ve often wondered about the phrase “aligning IT with the business” is how companies actually go about determining how close they are getting towards reaching that goal. Simply put, how do you measure change? One sign we’ve seen that companies are headed in the right direction is the crop of new roles emerging within IT. These roles range from positions focused on IT finance and service delivery to those responsible for end user satisfaction.

For example, in a recent article titled the “New C-Suite” by Shelley DuBois at Fortune, “CTO of the Cloud” has started to surface at organizations like Cisco. But outside the cloud, are these roles really new or have they been thrust into the limelight due to a transformation in IT?

Looking into this topic a little further, I ran across an interesting breakout of IT roles from the CIO Executive Board.* They break IT roles into three buckets: 1) New to World Roles, 2) Roles to Grow, and 3) Roles to Transform. Here is a sampling of roles in each category:

New to World Roles:

  • Cloud Integration Specialist
  • Head of Multifunctional Shared Services
  • Information Insight Enabler
  • Service Architect
  • Technology Broker
  • User-Experience Guru

Roles to Grow:

  • Business Analyst
  • Business Architect
  • Information Architect
  • IT Auditor
  • IT Strategist
  • Process Analyst
  • Service Manager

Roles to Transform:

  • Account Manager
  • Chief Architect
  • CISO
  • Enterprise Architect
  • Head of PMO
  • IT Financial Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Solutions Architect
  • Technology Leader

According to Gartner, we will even see the role of IT Product Manager emerge to focus on end-to-end management of an organization’s IT services.  “To deliver these kinds of services and achieve consistency, reliability, continual improvement and good financial performance in services, someone must be responsible and accountable for the end-to-end management of each service.”** In fact, if we take a step back many of these roles (particularly, the “new” and “growing” ones) tie back to the IT supply chain. That means, the ability to understand the cost, quality and value of IT will become increasingly important to a wider range of roles where delivering IT in a services framework is a necessary requirement of the job.

These are just titles, but as I mentioned earlier, I’m interpreting the emergence of these new roles as a positive sign. Change is upon us and the promise of aligning IT with the business is starting to take root organically from the inside. Clearly, we will continue to see a mix of new and evolving roles as IT organizations continue to undergo a significant transformation.

Perhaps these changes will lead to “black belts” of IT, similar to how Six Sigma introduced this label to the manufacturing industry. The “black belt” has distinct and specific responsibilities, and accountability to improving bottom line results.

Does your organization have the right people, processes and solutions in place to create its own black belts of IT?

*CIO Executive Board’s IT Practice - June 2010

**Gartner, Inc., Simon Mingay, March 3, 2010, Evolving Roles in the IT Organization: The IT Product Manager