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May 02, 2018

The 5 Biggest Challenges Facing IT Pros in Today's Business Climate

Understanding the 5 Biggest Issues IT Professionals Face in 2018

When you look at a list of the fastest growing industries in the country, information technology will almost certainly be included somewhere on it. If you study the latest trends in business growth, the role of IT in fostering positive organizational change and development is clear. When you consider the best opportunities for career advancement, IT-related positions and fields are hot.

At times, it can seem like there’s nothing holding information technology back. There’s excitement, momentum, and high expectations. However, there’s also plenty of friction, hurdles, speed bumps, and challenges.

Thriving as a professional in today’s IT climate is all about embracing the positive trends and learning how to overcome the pressing challenges that threaten to hold you back.

5 of the Most Pressing Challenges

The information technology field is a broad one. There are dozens of different career tracks and specialties, which can make it difficult to speak to any one of them in depth. But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to refer to high ranking IT professionals, like CIO’s, who are charged with making key decisions and reporting directly to company leadership.

Challenges are always evolving, but here are some of the biggest challenges you and your peers are likely facing (or could face) in today’s business landscape.

1. Rapid Technological Evolution

Technology is innovating at an astounding pace right now. As soon as one tool or piece of software emerges, it seems like something else is being developed that will render it obsolete. As an IT leader in your organization, there are a couple of ways you can face this challenge. You can ignore innovation and stick with the status quo, or you can take the time to position your organization so that it’s ready to evolve when necessary.

At one point a few years ago, 70 percent of companies on the Fortune 1000 list from the previous decade had vanished. The major cause was a lack of adaptation. In most cases, it wasn’t that they couldn’t adapt. It was that they didn’t adapt.

The proliferation of new technology is overwhelming and intimidating, but don’t use this as an excuse to look the other way. Recognize your company’s needs and be willing to adapt when you find technology that gives you the best chance of enjoying sustained success or establishing a competitive advantage.

2. Misunderstandings in the C-Suite

Because of the rapid progression of technology and the evolving role of IT in organizational growth, it’s easy for CEOs and other executives to have a misunderstood role of the CIO and what he should be doing.

“Maybe I’m old school, but I don’t think the CIO should be worried about directly generating revenue,” says Mike Fuhrman, chief product officer of hybrid IT infrastructure provider Peak 10 + ViaWest. “I’m starting to see this pop up more and more among my peers. To stay relevant as a CIO, many are working to try and productize themselves. While there are benefits to thinking that way, I think it can also be a recipe for defocusing the team and the boardroom.”

In order to be successful in your role, don’t be surprised or dismayed if you have to clarify what your role is. You’ll likely have to do so in layman’s terms that non-techies can understand.

3. Mounting Stress and Pressure

Whether it emerges from the constant need to innovate or misunderstandings about your role in the organization, IT professionals are facing mounting stress and pressure in today’s environment. Unfortunately, this stress often has an adverse impact.

“The severity of the effects on a worker of perceived job stress is proportional to the degree that the job cuts across, interrupts, or nullifies that worker’s goals and expectations from life,” one expert explains. “There is no balance between the demands of work, family, and personal life—a sure precursor to workplace stress.”

Unfortunately, many respond to serious job stress and pressure with unhealthy habits and addictions. Substance abuse is particularly common among executives and it’s important that you don’t let your stress spiral into something like this.

4. Winning the Talent War

Talent has been identified as the single biggest issue standing in the way of CIOs achieving their objectives. While this isn’t a new challenge, it’s important nonetheless.

Remaining competitive and forward thinking requires that you hire talented people who can help your organization innovate and adapt. You must constantly be scouting talent, recruiting candidates, and tailoring your job offers so they’re enticing and compelling. 

If at all possible, you need to convince the decision makers in your organization to open up more money to help you recruit, hire, and – most importantly – retain top talent. In the coming years, continuity will play a significant role in sustainable success.

5. Putting Data to Work

Your company has been gathering data for years – there’s no question about that. The problem is that, like most organizations, your company probably doesn’t know what to do with all of that data.

“The focus going forward isn’t about gathering data (though that’s certainly important). It’s about turning that data you’ve gathered into something useful. It’s about transforming that data into meaningful management information,” says Joe Stangarone, a 30-year veteran of the IT industry. “Those who can capitalize on their data in this way will have a significant advantage.”

Make sure you’re doing more than just collecting data. Data is totally useless if it can’t be interpreted and put to use. The good news is that most of your competition hasn’t yet figured out how to use their data. This creates an opportunity for you to set your company apart and establish a competitive advantage.

Overcoming Challenges and Finding Success

Balance and perspective are critically important in today’s information technology field. In the midst of these challenges and stressors, are you pursuing work-life balance and maintaining a realistic perspective that also accounts for all of the positive challenges and opportunities in the industry? Try not to become too overwhelmed or too excited – a “steady as we go” approach will render best results.

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