Become a Technology Translator
If you’re a corporate CIO or aspiring to move up from IT into the C-suite, strong translation skills are imperative. That’s means being able to explain the latest technology programs and initiatives in terms that business and financial executives will understand and support.
Like all professional disciplines, IT has its own language, filled with jargons and acronyms that other techies understand but are largely incomprehensible to people outside the technology profession. You most likely use that inside lingo when communicating with your team about the latest software release, network upgrade or application plug-in.
But everyone else in the company from the CEO on down will want you to tell them “what’s in it for us?” That means knowing how an IT initiative could improve sales, reduce costs or address other risks to the organization. For example:
- How can an investment in social media support our marketing program?
- What enterprise mobility tools will help our workforce become more productive?
- Do we need to invest in greater security measures to protect sensitive customer data?
- What changes do we need to make in our customer relationship management (CRM) system following a recent acquisition or merger?
- How can deploying the latest collaborative tools accelerate our product or service development cycle?
- What aspects of our network operations could we move to the cloud for greater 24/7 accessibility and business continuity planning?
Because CIOs live with these issues on a daily basis, they generally understand the potential risks and rewards associated with IT initiatives. But it’s not always easy to explain the business benefits and strategic value of new investments—particularly when technology projects face strong competition for a company’s limited resources.
Therefore, CIOs should be sure to include business, financial and presentation skills in their professional development plans. That might mean earning an MBA or a certification in a new discipline, or taking part in a corporate leadership development program. Those types of skills will help you become an effective technology translator and help you take the next step upward in your career path.