3 tips to navigating a changing IT landscape

How can contractors stay ahead of the game when it comes to digital transformations?

Digital transformation is the tech industry's biggest buzz word at the moment. It is a term that will become increasingly relevant to the job market as industry leaders seek to stay ahead of the curve and embrace digitalization to the fullest by taking on transformations. Admittedly, however, elements of the term are broad and encompass a large set of trends and technologies that fall into the categories of 'digital' and 'transformation'-- even those working within these transformations often have difficulty defining what exactly this buzzword means, especially as it varies from company to company.

What is generally clear about digital transformations is that:

  • Digital transformations manifest in different ways and consistently aim to be tailored to the organization at hand;
  • Digital transformations seek to incorporate and highlight technologies that optimize businesses in light of growing digitalization that is felt both internally and externally by companies;
  • Digital transformations will continue to drive IT and businesses as digitalization becomes ubiquitous and business-imperative.

For contractors it is always important to ensure that your skillsets are up to industry standard and, for some, digital transformations may seem like a disruption to what otherwise would have been a clear and mapped out career path. As an increasing number of prospective clients look to on board contractors to support and drive digital transformations, we have a three tips to help contractors navigate this changing IT landscape:

 

1. Flexibility

Digital transformations in their essence are disruptive and subject companies to extensive change. One of the most visible elements of this is the proliferation of technology leadership; gone are the days of the reigning Chief Information Officer. Many companies now have tech leadership in more than one area with Chief Digital Officers, Chief Information Security Officer, Chief Technology Officer and the list goes on. Increased distribution of leadership roles highlights the renewed importance of IT within the business and demonstrates intensity of change within a work environment.

Within this context of change and new management, employers will be looking for team players that are flexible and have experience in non-traditional management styles. This means soft skills, alongside strong technical skills, will become more important in a work environment. In addition to flexibility in working and management styles, Agile and Scrum are likely to become the preferred methodologies in many companies undergoing digital transformations.

 

2. Cooperation

Many companies undergoing digital transformations are pushing for a process that is internally-led to ensure that the end result is reflective of their particular business aspirations. Unlike many major IT/ERP implementations, this means that there will be fewer processes that are primarily owned by Systems Integrators or outsourced to consultancies. Digital transformations are likely to generate projects/programs that feature a greater mix of permanent internal stakeholders and external specialist contractors.

While soft skills and liaising with stakeholders have always been desirable skills for many contractors, in the area of digital transformation it becomes no longer desirable but necessary. Contractors should be able to demonstrate a keen ability to align with the business and communicate with internal stakeholders. Experience on projects with similar external-internal balances will be valuable, as strong cooperation is crucial to successful internal-external partnerships within digital transformations.

 

3. Experience

As many companies embark on their first digital transformation, they seek to define what this process means for them, and understand how a transformation can optimize and bring technology to the forefront of their business. These companies are altering their internal structures to accommodate for this change, which can generate uncertainty in terms of direction and next steps.

For this reason, prospective employers will be looking to on board contractors who have experience working on digital transformations at another company. Transformations will aim to be bespoke, however, previous experience working in a similar context of change can promise some guidance for the process.

In the absence of experience working in this environment, employers will look for contractors who can demonstrate an understanding of digital transformations. Brushing up on industry news and networking with relevant experts will be advantageous. A lot can be said for learning the lingo and, with any luck, “walking the talk”. Expressing a clear motivation for getting involved in a digital transformation can go far in the absence of previous experience.

Companies undergoing their own digital transformation will look for individuals with experience in niche technologies and with other similar transformations, as well as for people with the enthusiasm and motivation to drive process within this changing landscape.

 

As digital transformations begin to compliment and incorporate traditional IT programs, naturally contractors will also begin to operate within this space. More than ever, contractors will need to demonstrate high capacity to work flexibly and cooperatively, and add value in understanding the challenges and opportunities posed by digital transformations.

 

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