WANTED: People Who Speak Business and Technology Fluently

wantedMost businesses are in desperate need of employees and consultants that can speak both business and technology fluently. There are tremendous opportunities for people who understand technology and can apply it to the business the right way. At CTS, we used to call these people “Triathletes,” as they were technical gurus, had great business acumen, and possessed excellent communication skills. Since technology is now mission critical to all businesses, it’s key for businesses to start focusing on acquiring talent that are skilled technology liaisons. Businesses don’t need super technical resources – they can partner with firms that have this level of talent. Instead, businesses need people that can make solid technology decisions that align with the business and are able to manage technology projects and initiatives effectively.  We’ll always be able to find cheaper, better technology solutions (and resources). The hard part is choosing the right solutions,  implementing them properly, and dealing with all the tough business decisions.

Here are a few tips to make the transition from technology guru to technology liaison.

  • Learn to thrive in the gray areas.  In the business world, you have to make hard decisions with limited information.  It’s okay to be wrong.  Learn to fail fast and minimize risks.
  • Talk less, listen more.  Deliver the right level of information.  Understand your audience.  Don’t tell them how the watch was built when they ask what time it is.
  • Communicate the way the business communicates.  Speak their language and stop using technical speak.
  • Be an advocate – offer solutions.  Be a problem solver.  It’s okay to play devil’s advocate.  However, your job is not to kill every idea or project.  Instead, ensure everyone understands the risks and develop solutions to mitigate as many risks as possible.  Change your mentality from “why” to “why not.”
  • Be proactive.  Don’t let the business run red lights.  Don’t let the business fail so you can be right.  Nobody wins when this happens.  Instead, help the business navigate around difficult issues and keep the business leaders from making major mistakes.  Pick your battles – win the war not every battle.  It’s not about being right.  It’s not about you.
  • Make sure the entire business is properly aligned both strategically and operationally.  Your job is to make sure the business is setup to win.  Make sure technology and operations are setup to deliver the value proposition of the business.
  • Spend most of your time building relationships with the business and your team.  Being a liaison is hard work.  You must focus a lot of your time building strong relationships with both the business and your team.  Most technologists hate doing this, but it’s so critical.  Promote and advertise your value.
  • Over communicate.  No response is bad news.  You have to repeat yourself over and over again.  Be consistent with your communication and try to keep it as simple as possible.
  • Make deposits.  Be the most reliable resource in the company.  At some point, you’ll need to make some withdrawals because something will go wrong.  Make sure you are making a lot of deposits so you have a lot of relational equity built up to withdraw from.
  • Learn the business better than the business, but remember to stay humble.  As technologists, we are used to learning new things all of the time.  Use this skill to your advantage.  Invest time in really learning and understanding the business.  Put yourself in other people’s shoes.  Business is hard.  However, the more you know about the business, the more value you will add.
  • Study emotional intelligence.  This is the touchy feely stuff most technologists hate.  However, it’s not just about your IQ anymore.  You need to learn how to relate to others and build relational equity.  Learn to manage the individual.  This isn’t about being fake.  It’s about being genuine and real, but learning that humans are emotional and you need to relate to people the right way.
  • Always deliver.  Never miss a deadline.  Under promise and over deliver.  Be known as someone who always gets the job done the right way and on time.  Learn how to manage expectations and projects.
  • Learn to delegate and outsource.  Yes, you can do it better than someone else.  However, you need to learn to multiply and scale yourself.  You have to learn to delegate and manage other people.  Likewise, you need to learn to outsource to other firms.  If you don’t learn this, the business will go around you and do it themselves.  Position yourself as the expert in outsourcing.

Business leaders are sick of having to deal with technologists that are difficult to manage, don’t communicate, and demand high salaries.  Become a technology liaison.  Learn to speak both business and technology fluently.