It’s no secret that IT professionals and their organizations have been significantly affected by the downturn in the economy.  Those of us that have been through the so-called “dot-com” days can see how much things can change within a few years.  Fortunately, at least some companies are developing resources to help IT professionals weather the downturn.  I’d go a bit further in saying that these otherwise dismal times can provide significant opportunities for those that are willing to invest in their skills and their profession.

MicrosoftThriveThe Microsoft Thrive web site is a free resource that is designed to help IT professionals in a variety of ways.  For example, the site includes the following goals and areas:

  • Advance Your Career
  • Enhance Your Technical Skills
  • Align IT with Business

Some of the content is Microsoft-focused, but much of it applies to just about any area of IT specialization.

I’m honored to say that I’ve been chosen as the Thrive IT Pro of the Month (see Thrive IT Pro of the Month: Anil Desai)!  I recorded a brief (~9 minutes long) presentation that covers, among other things, some recommendations for IT pros to get ahead, how IT pros can demonstrate their value, details on technology-focused topics and even a mention of the importance of hobbies.

The entire audio presentation is available from download using the previous link.  Here’s an excerpt from the written transcript:

As an independent consultant, I’m fairly diversified in the area of IT. I’m also used to the ups and downs in the IT industry, starting from the dot-com days in the late 1990’s to today. I use a variety of different specializations to fill in the inevitable downtime between projects. So, I’m fairly fortunate in that I’ve been able to maintain my business through the recent crunch.

However, the downturn in the economy has certainly had an impact on my clients, especially in the area of prioritization. Many organizations have focused on cost-cutting and many organizations have removed or scaled-back many of their non-essential projects. Those changes can sometimes translate into lay-offs, increased work for remaining staff, and short-term changes at the expense of long-term gains.

All of this provides some serious challenges (as well as some opportunities) for IT professionals. One change is that it really puts the emphasis on IT professionals’ ability to work as a strategic part of their businesses. I’ve heard it said that people know when IT departments are doing their jobs when they don’t know that IT departments are doing their jobs. The idea here is that IT is traditionally seen as a behind-the-scenes force (or sometimes just as a cost center). Business leaders might feel that IT provides little strategic value to the overall business.

Tough economic environments bring this issue to the forefront: IT professionals must understand overall business goals and must be able to apply the right technical solutions to solve business problems. And, they need to demonstrate their value within and outside of their IT groups. For those IT pros that have been able to focus on just the technical aspects of their skillset, this is a good time to branch out into the rest of the business world.

Feel free to e-mail me if you’d like the entire transcript.  And please post here if you have any questions, comments, or recommendations for your IT peers.