The increased productivity in organizations over the past two decades has been fueled largely by human innovation, streamlining of processes and the effective application of technology to increase consistency of activity at a lower per transaction cost. These creative enhancements have been led by proactive leaders who could envision the possibilities as well as technical specialists who could put ideas into action. Unfortunately, during this time of significant technological advancement, many technical specialists have become valued only for their technical skills instead of their business perspective and overall contribution.

This view of Technology Professionals is beginning to change. Forward-thinking companies are beginning to understand the criticality for “IT departments to understand the larger business challenges that their leaders are facing and to emerge as a strategic partner rather than a cost center or support function.” (Understand Business Priorities")This means they must transform themselves from service providers to valued business partners for their internal clients. They must become trusted advisers whose input and insights help shape the direction of their organization before they’reever called on to leverage their vast technical skills.

But how can this be done? How can an organization transform tactical technicians, programmers, database administrators and software engineers into strategic partners? How can they develop their ability to question, consult and lead? How can they help them earn not just a seat at the table, but the right to have their voice heard at the times that matter the most?

This Dale Carnegie white paper addresses these critical questions in an effort to help companies of any size turn a commoditized IT department into a competitive corporate advantage. In this paper we will focus on clarifying the current perception and reality of technology professionals while looking at the steps to effectively reposition the perception and reality of those professionals. We will consider the behavioral skills needed by technologists to effectively perform in new ways necessary to actively contribute to the business outcomes of their organization.

We will conclude by identifying actionable steps organizations can take to implement this new direction at an enterprise, leadership and individual level.

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This requires a re-thinking of the talent IT departments must attract, develop and retain. In addition to attracting prerequisite technical skills and advancing those skills, organizations developing IT Valued Business Partners must focus on developing a broader base of business acumen by helping high potential IT talent understand more about the business so they can interact most effectively with their operational counterparts. This is a fundamental shift within organizations, because historically, IT professionals have tended to focus on their technical contribution alone  rather than focus on how the business works or the external business drivers that influence the organization.