The economics of IT changed as more firms took on more clients and more responsibilities. The growing breadth of end-user client devices demands deeper knowledge on both the systems and network sides of the access equation. The trick to increasing your intrinsic value in today's IT environment is "The more you know, the more you’re worth."
The more you know, the more you’re worth.
There was a time when you could categorize yourself as a “desktop specialist”, or a “server specialist”, “storage specialist” or a “networking specialist” or any of many others. The economics of IT changed as more firms took on more clients and more responsibilities. The trick to managing costs involved sending out the right specialist at the right time to each call and each project with the right skills and the right tools.
Often clients can’t distinguish between a hardware problem, a software problem, a server problem, a network problem, a bandwidth problem, or any other kind of problem. When any one thing goes wrong, the perception is that everything is wrong; and client perception is essential when understanding and solving the customer's issue at hand.
The more you know, the more diverse your skills, the more you can command in terms of fees
Fewer “broken” calls yields higher service levels. If the first support professional dispatched to resolve a particular service issue can resolve the problem themselves on the first visit, response and resolve times naturally improve. Latency is introduced to the process when they need to redirect the ticket to someone else with the appropriate skills. Dispatching more support specialists that have broader skill sets, therefore, will almost always result in less latency, higher service levels, and more satisfied end users.
The Critical Importance of Context Making Better Connections
For IT specialists delivering projects, cross-training enhances their ability to perform essential tasks in the context of the entire project. When a server specialist, for example, understands networking protocols it is far easier for them to anticipate many things they’ll need to optimize the interaction between the servers and the network.
Another example is why DevOps adoption has been so rapid. Developers and network operators are drawn together to work in concert which significantly improves outcomes for both. At no point does a developer become an operator, nor do operators learn to code. But both come to understand each other’s worlds enabling a far more effective partnership. Cross-training prepares specialists for DevOps work environments, thus enabling project completion within the full context of the customer's needs.
Making Better Connections
Cross-training creates combinations of skills that enable IT service technicians to better pinpoint problem root-cause on issues where the source isn’t readily identifiable. For example:
- When configuring a server, the server specialist should understand how that server will communicate with the rest of the devices over the network and how the network will impact server performance.
- When designing and implementing a network to support voice, video, conferencing, application sharing and other high-demand data types, it is critical for the network engineer to understand the end-user applications that will deliver the data to the users.
- Security is a discipline that straddles both worlds, and a deep understanding of the interaction between the various hardware, software, and bandwidth management components is crucial to assuring full data and network security - from the core to the perimeter of the network.
- The growing breadth of end-user client devices demands deeper knowledge on both the systems and network sides of the access equation. Management of desktops and laptops has become fairly standardized, however new tablet solutions, handheld smartphones and other “smart” devices require a far broader knowledge base for supporting their use in a secure and fully-compliant networked environment.
All of the hardware and software complexity clients face have to be handled somewhere, and that somewhere is their trusted technology specialist. Cloud experts need to understand the hardware, the software, and the intrinsic services architecture of networks, servers, storage, endpoints, security, and much more. The acceleration of the expectations of the client or user community means you need to be able to resolve problems quickly. Trying to find someone else to solve a software problem when you’re a “hardware guy” just doesn’t cut it in today’s business ecosystem.
The Bottom Line
If you’re working in an on-prem environment, the more you know, the more diverse your skills, the more you can command in terms of fees. If you’re working in a cloud environment, cross-training and broad skills are the entry stakes to admission. By focusing on expansion of your skill portfolio through strategic cross training, you are effectively accelerating your chosen career or, if you’re a business owner or sole proprietor, your bottom-line profitability.
For more information on how ongoing technical education and cross-training can positively impact IT professionals with project opportunities at higher billable rates, talk to a Techadox expert today.
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