Today’s IT experts juggle multiple priorities, and the best leaders do it all while keeping up on the latest industry trends. To find out what trends will shape IT in the near future, as well as get insights into how the next generation of IT leaders should approach starting their careers, we asked two industry veterans, Sean Glang, Senior IT Manager at Recurly, and Jesus Ward, Director of IT, Superfly, to share their perspectives. Here’s what they said.
“SaasOps (administering cloud applications) is huge. I expect more movement away from physical networking and security practices and a higher adoption of technologies like SDP and Zero Trust. Solutions that integrate not just with, but between, businesses existing applications are showing more and more value. IT roles are expected to do more with less and need to focus on ways to leverage the person power they already have. Automation is no longer optional.”
“Automation is no longer optional.” - Sean Glang, Senior IT Manager, Recurcly
“Within the past decade, we have seen a huge reduction in the physical footprint of on-location data centers — and a shift to cloud-based (offsite) solutions. I expect this trend to continue, which means it’s very likely that at some point you will be in the position of converting a company to cloud-based computing. I hope that as SaaS applications become the new standard for roll-outs, the platforms will develop a more standardized approach as far as IT administration.
While proprietary intellectual property is often what gives a company its competitive edge, that does not necessarily mean that the IT admin needs to go through unique (often expensive and strenuous) implementations training for each platform. Eventually, the various service providers will probably become more similar in terms of their Security practices and automation, which will improve the efficiency of IT teams.”
“Don't just find your pain points, find your annoyance points. Things that aren't necessarily completely stopping your workflow, but that keep cropping up and creating speedbumps. The little things that stop you from hitting a steady state of productivity might look like they only cost you a few minutes of work, but really they can completely stop you from achieving high velocity of output.
You can't ignore your process, but you shouldn't focus solely on it. Consider what your required and desired outcomes are, and if there are other ways to achieve them. Especially if you're looking at automation and connecting up different apps, don't tie yourself to the way you did things yesterday. Old processes can be left behind just like old technology can. The railroads didn't concern themselves with where they'd store horseshoes because they didn't need horses.
“Old processes can be left behind just like old technology can.” -Sean Glang, Senior IT Manager, Recurly
If you're automating your workflows, consider when and where you really need to have manual steps. Approval and review steps are important when humans are typing things that might be misspelled or put into the wrong field. When the process is automated you should be able to trust that if the information going in is good the information coming out is good.”
“IT fatigue” is real and it often results in high turnover. - Jesus Ward, Director of IT, Superfly
"When a team member leaves a company, it often takes a while for them to be replaced — if they get replaced at all! My advice for start-ups and future-centric companies of all ages, is 1) to make sure the workload is evenly and reasonably distributed among the team, and 2) to provide plenty of learning and development opportunities. This industry moves so fast! It takes a lot of study and effort just to keep up with it. As much as possible, allow your team members to attend expos, conferences, training, and development that aligns with their strategic goals.
My company, Superfly, sent me to Bettercloud’s Altitude conference this year. Even though I was already an avid user, I learned a lot (both from the presenters and other attendees) about specifications, best practices, what to look for, and how to activate a SaaS application in our office. I’m grateful to be working at a creative company that prioritizes their employees in this way — it’s a win-win.”
“Once you get a broad understanding of your company's technology, find something to specialize in.
I suggest finding the technologies that most of your coworkers don't enjoy working on. For me it was IP Telephony. Become a subject matter expert, and learn how to write great documentation. Your team will appreciate not having to complete the tasks they didn't like, and you'll get experience with and feedback on writing documentation. I've never worked somewhere that didn't want better documentation. Once you prove you can master one technology, it will be easier for you to take on other technologies.
If that's not a valid path, and just in general, try to be a resource for your team, your manager, and your company (hopefully in that order). If you see someone starting to set up a new desk, go grab an external monitor for them out of the storage closet. Even very little things can demonstrate that you understand the process and care about its success.”
“Even very little things can demonstrate that you understand the process and care about its success.” -Sean Glang, Senior IT Manager, Recurly
“Welcome to the world of corporate computing! Pull up an ergonomic chair and some music because you’re in for a fun and fulfilling ride if you love tech. These days, IT is more about understanding software platforms than it was in my early days, when the focus was on hardware and infrastructure. Learn as much as you can about the SaaS Ops movement: the way these platforms manage user permissions, live accounts, activations, archiving, and start-to-finish Security.
“Learn as much as you can about the SaaS Ops movement: the way these platforms manage user permissions, live accounts, activations, archiving, and start-to-finish Security.”- Jesus Ward, Director of IT, Superfly
Once you get your bearings, you can spend some time researching different platforms and learning about the various options the industry has to offer. It’s useful to have some context about what has and has not worked in the past as well as new feature requests and upcoming releases. That way, if something’s not working in your enterprise, you know how to find another route.”
Pro tip: Remember that something that works for one company (or doesn’t work) doesn’t always mean that it will work (or won’t work) for another. So keep your eyes peeled and take notes as you progress in your career from one organization to another.
In addition, I recommend that you look for, and lavish your loyalty on, companies that promote a decent work-life balance and whose mission aligns creatively with your personal ambitions. It makes a big difference, knowing that you can represent your company proudly.
Customer retention is critical to scaling your company. Not only does better retention help revenue grow, but it also leads to more reference accounts that will help feed new business. When customers are not achieving their desired outcomes or feel like they do not have an advocate towards success, they are more likely to churn.