By Jim Zimmermann
First off, Oz is a nickname that Australians give to their country–so no, we aren’t discussing CIOs “somewhere over the rainbow!”
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Australia to meet with CIOs at the CIO Strategy Summit in Melbourne and to present Skillsoft’s IT skills development offerings to Skillsoft’s customers and prospects.
At the CIO Strategy Summit, Barry Murphy, Skillsoft’s Director, Consulting and Technical Services, Asia Pacific and I had one-on-one sessions with over 25 CIOs from leading organizations in Australia and New Zealand.
One of the overriding concerns of the CIOs was the struggle to do more with less—less budget, fewer people etc. We also found they were all concerned with IT training and development, and although they were concerned about training on technical topics, they were more interested in providing business skills training to their IT staff.
So what is behind this interest in business skills training for the IT staff?
The CIOs in Australia are experiencing what many U.S.-based organizations have been struggling with for years—how to run IT as a business—within a business. Today, the IT organization can no longer function as an island. IT now has customers that it has to satisfy—both internal and external. The internal customers are all the various departments that depend on the IT department to provide the infrastructure and applications they need to do their jobs.
The IT department’s external customers are the company’s customers and partners that interact with the company through various technologies (think customer facing applications, web sites, social media, etc.)
It’s great if the IT department has all the technical skills they need to provide for their customers, but IT also has to be able to interact with its customers to gather requirements, participate in multi-departmental teams, manage projects, and provide training and support. Often the IT staff has had little or no training on basic business skills such as communications, management, teamwork, giving presentations, project management, performing analysis of business needs, etc. Yet these skills are absolutely essential for the success of IT departments today!
For IT departments that fail to develop the business skills necessary to run their organization more like a business, they face isolation from the rest of the company and the prospect of losing chunks of their budget to other departments within the organization.
Several analyst firms have already noticed a trend of more IT spending occurring outside of IT’s control, and in some companies they report that greater than half of the traditional IT budget is now outside of IT’s direct control!
How is your company’s IT organization addressing its business skills development needs? Do you see more and more IT spending occurring outside of IT? We would love to hear from you on this topic!
A special thanks to all of the great Skillsoft staff in Australia and to all the CIOs and Skillsoft customers and prospects I had the opportunity to meet. Australia is a great country – go visit if you get the chance!
Learn how Skillsoft business training could help your IT organization.