Business Technologists: The “new” IT ambassador for today’s evolving companies?

Like Bob Dylan said in 1964, “The Times They Are a-Changin'”.

Everyone knows the old often-heard adage about the IT Department being more or less a neccessary evil – while this isn’t exactly true – many companies have operated that way over the past decade or so (many to their detriment, unbenowst to them).

Not only that, but the ever increasing convergence of tech and media has led companies to make technology purchasing decisions without involoving IT at all – only to roll it back on to the backs of already overburdened IT workers, sight-unseen.

There needs to be an organizational shift in the way companies view the traditional Business / Technology split among their own departments.

Recently, Warren Ritchie, CIO of Volkswagen Group of America was interviewed by ComputerWorld regarding the ever increasing use of technology in their present (and future) lines of cars. In discussing the data mining and interactive possibilites that would come along with “building cars … infused with intelligence, connectivity and new kinds of capabilities”, the conversation turned toward how this also posed an interesting problem for VWoA (or any shop looking to move forward in todays economy). “A lot of the services that we’re envisioning will require access to corporate functionality or corporate data”. Which breaks traditional IT/Biz paradigms regarding data and IT’s role in business or even customer support.

Basically, VWoA ended up revamping their IT structure by creating a kind of tech ambassador to ensure that Business and Information Technology flow together harmoniously toward a common goal.

…responding to these changes by creating a layer of people within his IT organization who are focused on understanding the business and its direction, and knowing how to architect future needs to emerging technologies…

Forward thinking. Make changes in the present to account for the future. Pro-active.

Ritchie and VW have created a “business technologist” position, someone who fills a consulting role to help people on the business side, make technology decisions.

A business technologist needs to have an IT background, coupled with an understanding of integration and the ability to speak the language of business.


At C&C, we are glad to hear this type of news from such a high-profile source. We’ve been playing the role of “Business Technologists” for years now – and won’t stop anytime soon regardless of what the title is these days. The reality is that this type of “sweeper”, someone who can go between the business logic, requirements and bottom line of a company as well as the low-level “get your hands dirty” type of technology role is essential. If no one can effectively manage the progress and speak both languages things will get “lost in translation”, crippling its usefulness and possibly setting the stage for company-wide poor decisions based on bad information.

With the widespread adoption of Business Intelligence solutions keeping tabs on the actual heartbeat of the bottom line – any miscommunication can have severe financial reprocussions.

In a world where everyone is “moving to the cloud”, make sure that you have someone keeping their head OUT of the clouds keeping one foot in business and one foot in technology.

Front-office people in suits making gut-decisions about their business, and back-office IT workers in polo shirts primarily keeping the systems up just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

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