Benefits outweigh risks in CIO perceptions of business technologists
Gartner has already been predicting that 80% of tech could be built outside of IT by 2024. According to another recent survey, most CIOs are on board with emerging “business technologists,” also known as citizen developers.
Gartner's research shows 70% of CIOs at midsize enterprises believe that business technologists provide a high benefit to their enterprises, while 63% believe that they pose risks. 38% cited both the high risk and high reward, meaning many CIOs are “carefully embracing” this movement.
What does this mean for the outlook of tech roles? Leaders are redefining what capacity looks like, outlining new governance structures and responsibilities, plus prioritizing different skills for both IT talent and for employees throughout the business.
Getting more people involved with tech initiatives
While once an IT-only discussion when selecting new vendors or planning an implementation, more business leaders are involved in tech decision-making. But many are going even further.
Nearly 53% of business leaders say they are responsible for the operations of a technology system either in collaboration with their IT departments (34%) or independently (19%). And a large share of employees outside of IT now have some degree of technology creation, customization or configuration in their day-to-day work.
Who are business technologists?
This involvement in modifying, customizing or configuring their own analytics, process automations, apps, or being an admin for other solutions as part of their day-to-day work is what makes knowledge workers business technologists. According to Gartner, here is the breakdown of who these employees are:
- 46% are technology end users
- 45% are business technologists outside of IT, data and analytics departments
- Only 5% are business unit IT and data and analytics department employees
- Only 4% are corporate IT employees
Sometimes involvement with technology is reflected with the word “technologist” in the job title, other times a “finance analyst” can spend most of their day using technology without the formal title. Almost any role or job title can now expect to have a deeper involvement with technology.
What kind of projects are business technologists working on?
- 56% are working on data analysis like coding analytical models and exploring data sources
- 53% are working on automation projects, whether with no-code or by writing scripts
- 35% are working on application development, like creating new apps and configuring functionalities
- 30% are working on integration, creating new connected functionalities
- 19% are working on website development like creating websites or configuring web functionalities
Capacity and operational efficiencies are the main benefits of collaboration
The vast majority of CIOs agree that the rise of business technologists increases the need for the business and IT to work more closely together, for IT to spend more time advising business teams, and to slightly rethink the organization of IT teams.
Most believe that more widespread technology will improve the enterprise’s operations and increase technical capacity overall. However, 52% of respondents disagree that this will reduce the need for IT talent or hiring new IT employees.
There is a sense that business technologists lead to more demand for IT professionals, not less. IT work and responsibilities won’t simply be transferred to "regular" employees.
Rather, most believe that business technologists might work on the practical aspects of process automation, analytics and customer experience initiatives, while IT employees continue to work on their more advanced projects and creating the infrastructure, security setup and controls on the platforms that allow technologists to undertake tech projects safely.
In this high risk, high reward environment, advanced IT knowledge becomes more important than ever. Though this could slightly change the skills needed for IT employees as well as the average employee.
While employees in the business are being upskilled or hired for experience with data platforms, enterprise systems, automation and analytics, IT talent may need to be upskilled or hired for the obvious increased security measures, but also with new emphasis on less obvious soft skills like consultancy, training, leadership and communication.
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