Almost every traditional brick-and-mortar business has a need for IT-focused employees, along with many digital-only operations. Given the fast pace of technology, the types of tasks undertaken continue to evolve. To understand the trends shaping the IT sector, Digital Journal spoke with Jan Arendtsz, CEO of Celigo, on the future of IT careers.
Digital Journal: What are the biggest challenges facing IT professionals?
Jan Arendtsz: The biggest challenge facing IT professionals is the constant struggle of trying to do more with fewer people, resources, and time. Because companies are so technology-driven and departments are utilizing multiple business applications each day, the largest time constraint often comes from servicing internal “customers” in the organization. Working with such tight bandwidth often leads to IT team burnout.
IT teams are tasked with striking a balance between controlling and centralizing internal processes, while also empowering employees with the tools they want, and need, to do their work. As a result, IT professionals need to find the right balance between keeping control of internal systems in the way that works for everyone, so they don’t go rogue and create their own ad-hoc systems and processes behind IT operations’ backs.
For example, let’s say IT creates a controlled, yet cumbersome process where data must be shared via SharePoint. If this is too technical and slow, and requires regular IT involvement to set up and manage, employees may end up bypassing the whole process by using unvetted file sharing sites and applications. While this action might be quicker for the employee, it increases the risk for the company via possible data leaks and malware, and ultimately decreases the control the IT department has over its systems.
DJ: What types of tasks can be automated?
Arendtsz: Many IT professionals spend time in the business of maintenance and updates. It can be incredibly time-consuming if many of the company’s software applications are too complicated that they need to be managed by IT. Some work can be offloaded to end users that is typically done by IT when applications are chosen in part because employees can maintain and manage,.
DJ: Which types of technologies help with automation?
Arendtsz: By selecting the right applications, much of the maintenance and upgrade of applications and processes can be delegated to the end user. One of these technologies includes integration platforms (iPaaS), which allows companies to standardize how applications connect to each other in an organization. For example, the finance team can use an ERP while the sales team uses their CRM, and connecting with an iPaaS allows for automatic transfer of information about quotes, invoices, bookings, pricing, and so much more.
Like any application, choosing the right iPaaS that the end-user can manage on a daily basis, streamlines operations for the individual departments as well as the IT team.
DJ: How do end-users feel about not being in control of things?
Arendtsz: When it comes to automation, there’s often the misconception that decisions are being taken out of the hands of users through the new technology. This isn’t the case, as most automation is often just about saving a user from needing to perform repetitive, manual processes, like copying data from application to another. Automation isn’t taking away any control or making any decisions on its own – it’s only taking away manual processes and minimizing errors.
For example, say your CFO and your controller spend the weekend closing the books, entering information manually into the accounting solution from other sources. This low-level task might be automated with an iPaaS without losing any actual control to the technology.
DJ: What can be done with the additional time savings?
Arendtsz: Implementing integration solutions like iPaaS for your business fuels growth and helps do more with less by eliminating manual data entry, increasing visibility, and reducing errors. With more time freed up by automation, IT professionals can turn their expertise to initiatives that are more strategic to the bottom line, finding the best way to leverage information to grow the business.