You must develop your skill depending on which aspect of the IT industry you may fit in perfectly.
In the first of this series we explored what the IT industry is about and two of the prominent types of IT companies that exist in India today — the Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and the System Integrators (SIs). Now that we have an understanding of different companies in the IT space, let us take a closer look at the inner workings of an IT company. Why is this important? Understanding the activities that occur within a company is a critical step towards identifying which aspect interests YOU the most. After all, you will be doing these activities every day for possibly the rest of your life. Once you understand the various activities and the roles that perform them, it becomes easier to develop the skills required to succeed in that specific role.
This week, let’s take the example of a Systems Integrator (SI) also sometimes known as a Service Provider (SP). SIs focus on understanding customer requirements and matching those customer needs with software packages. SIs can be enormous in size with various divisions catering to different product platforms or industry sectors. For instance, a SI can have a division focussed on the automotive sector where they implement software systems that help the client manage their product development process or the SI may have a division focussed on the education sector where they implement school management systems. Each of these divisions in turn have several customers within that industry sector. As a result, people who work for SIs find themselves exposed to a variety of different client companies and requirements — a person working for the automotive division of a SI could possibly do work for Ford, Honda or even BMW!
So what exactly do you do within these divisions? Every division within these companies has two main focuses — sales and marketing and delivery. The sales and marketing team within a division is responsible for identifying prospective clients, being up to date on industry trends and accurately conveying the SIs capabilities to its potential customer base. As you can imagine this part of the business hires people with excellent communication and people skills. The team typically consists of seasoned experts with subject knowledge and a well-established network of contacts developed through experience. The “Delivery” side of the business is where most people find themselves employed when coming straight out of college. This is the team that ensures project completion for a client. Imagine if you were to build a house, you would hire an architect, a building contractor and labourers. IT delivery teams contain people who hold similar roles, from design through build, testing and deployment. Each step in this process requires people with a different set of skills — the IT Architect typically has in-depth content expertise, good communication skills and works directly with the client, while the testing team on the other hand contains people with moderate domain knowledge but with excellent problem solving and tracking skills.
IT is an expansive field and what we have seen here is a glimpse into the workings of some of the larger IT companies in existence today. There is ample opportunity for all kinds of talent in this sector, from people who want to develop core technical competency and serve as solution architects, people who want to develop programme management skills and oversee completion of large projects to those who want to spend 5 days a week on the road meeting clients and selling these capabilities to them. You should make your choice of career within IT by developing an understanding of the sector and the chain of activities and roles within typical IT companies. This way you will proactively end up working in an area you are really interested in.
The writer is a director at the Pathways Program (www.pathwaysprogram.in). e-mail: Aditya@thinkingpalm.com)