How to Develop Business Acumen in Your IT Workforce

Instilling business acumen into your IT workforce is as hard as solving advanced calculus, but you know it must be done. Lily Mok, research vice president at Gartner, says that developing strong business acumen in IT is a prerequisite to effectively shift IT focus from optimizing IT operational efficiency to driving business effectiveness, value creation, and growth. In an article for Gartner, Kasey Panetta offers two focus points to start the change:

  1. Modify the communication style.
  2. Raise awareness of the overall business context.

Change the Nature of Things

Not all businessmen have the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions in critical situations. For an IT person, this is even more challenging. Developing business acumen doesn’t purely mean being quick-witted and strategic with your decision; it is about transforming your organizational culture to have a good sense of what right decisions to make, and how and when to make them. This starts with communication, as high-performing companies all shift from top-down communication to conversation-based communication. They understand that by promoting a culture of community and information sharing, their IT department will be able to identify the key factors in business and how they will affect the IT strategy, as well as implement practices that deliver better business outcomes.

A communication strategy will only make a difference in your department if you raise your team’s awareness of the matter. Show your team members how IT can change the enterprise, and why it is important to have business acumen. Gartner estimates by 2020 that 100 percent of IT roles will require an intermediate level of proficiency in business acumen. Thus, it is better to start early with a well-established and clear communication strategy. Panetta says that potential opportunities to raise business context awareness include the following:

  • Effective usage of the communication strategy.
  • Guest speakers (i.e., other business units, external partners, customers) to educate IT on the business and its ecosystems or highlight current market trends and customer needs.
  • Incorporate and reinstate key elements of IT strategy wherever appropriate to help the team prioritize work effort and keep projects aligned across the digital business.
  • Focus on telling a good story when it comes to IT — finding a way to explain complex or abstract concepts in an engaging and inspiring manner.

You can view the original article here:

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