Focus on the Utility Player in IT

| , EVP, Innotas

By: Kevin Kern, CEO at Innotas

In Baseball, no one knows what to call the player who stashes several gloves in his locker, shows up each day oblivious to where he’ll be on the field, if he plays at all. Is he a utility player, a super-utility player, a super sub, or simply multi-dimensional? We think a recent article written by PCWorld’s Lucas Mearian supports the point why utility players are so valuable within IT. We think the multi-dimensional tag is appropriate for IT professionals with more than one skill set. One of the issues that IT organizations are facing today is how to manage not only time of a resource, but how to catalog the various skill sets of each resource so that one can appropriately match time and skill set to project or task. The article points out several examples of how companies invest in training for multi-domain expertise in order to fulfill the incoming demand from the business. Additional pressures for cross training arise from the increased requirement for well-trained IT professionals. Simply put the market is hot. Hiring and retaining talent is becoming substantially more difficult.

The role of utility players in baseball requires a special set of attributes: from a physical standpoint, its athleticism, a nose for the ball, and baseball instincts. But perhaps more relevant is the acceptance of the role. Nobody would argue that it’s more comfortable knowing what position you’re playing each time you take the field. IT work is no different because as Bob Dylan writes “the times they are changing.”

If one considers the fast pace at which IT and business move today, it’s almost a requirement that we train, foster, and promote utility skill sets within IT shops. Additionally, tools that support and highlight proficiency levels regarding application expertise, programming language expertise, and business skills will become increasingly more relevant to IT organizations as it pertains to project management. Cost constraints on the business are no different that salary caps in baseball. Hiring specialty players is a luxury in sports, and we submit the same goes for IT. Players increase their value by developing multiple skill sets and IT should take notice.

Winning teams require teamwork. Utility players typify the notion of teamwork and here at Innotas we continue to build products that support the changing landscape and personnel requirements within IT.

So how many gloves does your IT team stash in their locker?