Technology & Influence: How I.T. is Shaping Your Company's Future
Are the Right People at the Core of Your I.T. Department?
You feel it in your company’s operations. Your employees talk about it in between the keys they type on their keyboards. Companies need to transform in order to adapt to the new market reality: the rising importance of information technology, known by its acronym, IT.
The role of the IT department has evolved rapidly in recent years, as have its methods for managing human resources. We sat down with D-TECK’s Chief Technology Officer, Félix Roberge, to discuss the influence IT departments have on the future of companies and the challenges of recruiting in the field.
Marketing (MKTG): Let’s jump right in. For someone who doesn’t work in IT or work closely with an IT department, how does its contribution affect company performance?
Félix Roberge (FR): A major portion of the IT department’s work is reflected in the tools the rest of the company uses. It plays a supporting role in a business, working behind the scenes. Its influence is felt not in deliverables, for instance, a new tool, but rather in the savings or efficiency gains a department such as sales experiences through the IT department’s work. The IT department is like a cook in a restaurant: clients don’t necessarily think about the cook when they leave a tip, but they take into account how the meat was done in their decision.
"The IT department is like a cook in a restaurant: clients don’t necessarily
think about the cook when they leave a tip, but they take into account how the meat was done in their decision."
If the marketing department needs a new system to handle communications with clients, the IT department implements and maintains the infrastructure. We adapt to situations a company encounters to offer an innovation and ensure financial or other forms of performance. Working with other departments, we prevent scenarios like the demise of Blockbuster, which did not manage to adapt to market changes.
Five or ten years ago, senior managers didn’t necessarily think about financial tech or HR tech. But today, they depend on it to function effectively, and it is the IT department that steers the company’s computer destiny.
MKTG: With so much influence on company performance, the IT department has to have its finger on the pulse of change and technology innovation. What trends have you observed for managing human resources?
FR: I see two trends right now. The first is a slightly more philosophical shift: companies need to think in terms of breaking down technology silos (computer equipment, solutions development, networking) to allow a symbiosis between their activities. Technology is important to all employee tasks, so we have to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
This shift to a multitasking approach gives rise to a second trend: the need to have employees who are jacks of all trades. Technology is evolving quickly, and the tools are following that movement; to perform effectively, you need to surround yourself with open-minded people who are eager to learn to be able to adapt to projects under way. In the past, you could learn one type of program and make it to retirement with that knowledge. Not everyone wants to take courses to update their skills.
Today there are so many platforms and computer languages that companies need someone who is curious, who has a desire for knowledge and who has the superior reasoning skills to learn quickly. And the company has to support this initiative, by allowing employees to attend conferences and take courses, which it pays for.
MKTG: Is it easy to find that type of person? What do human resources for an IT department look like?
FR: Unfortunately, there is a great deal of competition to find IT employees. We are seeing a brain drain to giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, while local small companies increasingly use technology solutions that require labour.
So we have to adapt to employee requests and listen to their needs. One of the priorities is work-life balance: breaking the mold of 9 to 5 and coming up with flexible schedules, whether to offer parents who need to pick up their children at school more leeway or to allow employees to work from home. Responding to this type of need adds value to the job offer.
We also need to adapt how we manage responsibilities and efficiency: rather than putting in a set number of hours a day, we should ask ourselves what projects can be completed by the end of a day. And if employees work better between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., why not let them organize their work day the way that works best for them?
Day in and day out, we see that information technology impacts every area of an organization. We shouldn’t underestimate IT resources – the importance of this department is just starting to grow. IT has already changed our consumption habits – just think about shopping on Amazon and streaming with Netflix; they are changing our approaches to marketing and to human resources. HR tech makes it possible to delve beyond experience on a CV and find the candidate who is the best fit. This is one of the many opportunities an IT team opens up for your company.
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