A New Look for IT: What Skills Are Needed for Tomorrow’s IT Staff?

Written By: James Lingle


Much of my career has been spent leading teams. Whether it has been single focus teams (e.g. support) or teams that have mixed focuses (support, database, security, etc…). For the longest time the focus was topically customer service. That is to say, what can we do to react to a guest’s needs?

Several years ago, my philosophy began to change. I began to wonder: What can my teams do to add value to the organization rather than to simply react? So, when I looked at the schedule of this year’s Super Sessions, I was immediately interested in a session about the changing IT staff requirements.

startThe session started with the panel sharing with us some of what they see as the drivers for that change. While some of those changes were internal (organization and process, for example); many of the real influencers are external to the organization. Things like: mobility, PCI and PII security concerns and vendor community changes were some of the examples. I think I would add commoditization of IT jobs, the giant leaps forward in distributed (yes, you can say cloud!) computing and the significant advancements in APIs.

So then, what does the new IT staff look like? It has been long said, by a lot of people, that – even in IT – you hire for hospitality first. Interestingly, that was not a consensus on the panel. There was some opinion that you hire for IT talent. I can certainly see the argument for both. It makes you wonder (see below) if there is a middle ground.

One of the interesting things I picked up was the idea that vendors are pushing back. In this era of big data, or human data if you like, we all want to analyze everything. Vendors are now telling us that they will provide us the data and we will have to do it ourselves. From an IT staffing perspective, that certainly means a different skill set. Does my DBA need to be hired for hospitality first? Maybe there is a change in the wind for some positions.

There was one additional interesting item I picked up on during the session. The use of third party providers for everything: from daily IT support to dispatch break-fix has changed the landscape of the IT staff and relationships. I mentioned earlier the commoditization of IT jobs. The increased capabilities of remote support have made the question of who is doing the job an important question that needs to be addressed. Can your team provide greater value to the organization by allowing others to support the day to day issues that arise while you tackle bigger things? Additionally, as these third party providers grow in numbers and influence, can they actually help you better leverage your relationships with owners, managers, brands and vendors? Maybe not a question we will answer today, but we really should begin looking at what opportunities these types of changes can bring.


James Lingle is an official 2016 HITEC Guest Blogger and professional consultant. In addition to Interim CIO and CIO advisory service, he also does project management and information security work for his clients. Follow him on LinkedIn and visit his page at www.jameslingle.com.

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