Why Tech Managers Need Business Skills

Tiffany Stronghart May 30, 2023
abstract of a hand pointing to a global network connection and data exchanges

If you want to be a successful information technology manager, it’s no longer enough to just have computer skills–you’ll need business skills, too.

Recent employment trends show a growing need for IT professionals who can help businesses grow and tackle complex problems. IT managers, traditionally tasked with ensuring a company’s electronic infrastructure is running smoothly, are now being asked to participate in the C-suite. According to InformationWeek, information technology “has slowly shifted from being a department that supports business to one that helps lead the way.” 

CompTia’s  2023 IT Industry Outlook report agrees. “With technology now acting as a critical component in business strategy, it is in a company’s best interest to integrate their IT specialists more deeply into operations. Of course, with most organizations making this move, the demand for skills is outpacing available supply, meaning that opportunities are open not only within an IT pro’s current employer but also in other firms that may provide higher pay or better flexibility.”

IT-related job postings showed a 563 percent increase in skills from Project Management Institute (PMI) Methodology from January 2022 to February 2023. During this same time period, there was a 333 percent increase in investment decision skills and a 420 percent increase in financial planning. Other significant increases included workflow management (166 percent) and finance (61 percent), according to Lightcast data.

Recent career outlooks also indicate that IT management positions are stable and growing.  U.S. News and World Report ranks IT Manager jobs as #3 in Best Technology Jobs, #6 in Best STEM Jobs, and #12 in est Paying Jobs. As IT departments expand and become a critical function of business operations across all industries, the need for trained managers has spiked. From January 2022 to February 2023, there were 54,352 unique job postings in this field nationwide, with 10,311 employers competing for individuals to fill these positions, according to Lightcast data.

Erin Allen, Director of IT Strategy and Architecture at Sargento Foods Inc., saw firsthand the importance of business skills in an IT environment.

“It is important for technologists to see business opportunities that help their company thrive in a competitive market. When this happens, IT professionals aren’t seen as an outsourced commodity. Rather, they are seen as business technologists.”

Allen, a graduate of the online University of Wisconsin IT Management master’s program, said she didn’t intend on seeking a leadership position when she started school. “I’d classify myself as very much an introvert, and I fell in love with technology when I was young,” she says. She learned how to code in high school and enjoyed it because she could do a lot of work solo, but realized that there was “more to it than just 1s and 0s” as she began her career. “I value the relationships and interactions of speaking with people about their needs and improving their lives—even if it’s just making their work life more efficient.”

Like Allen, information technology professionals often need graduate-level education to take the next step in their careers. If you want to learn about the relationship between information technology and business strategy while positioning yourself to become an IT director, IT project manager, senior developer, senior software engineer, and even CTO or CIO in a rapidly evolving field, consider the IT Management program today. With courses in data science, enterprise security, finance, and IT project management, there’s something for everyone. 

The program offers three stackable certifications suitable for entry-level and experienced IT professionals: IT Leadership, Enterprise Infrastructure, and IT Operations. Students who complete all three certificates plus a capstone course and project will earn a master’s degree. You can also take certificates individually to build a specific skill set. Whatever your intention, you’ll receive an education from the University of Wisconsin Extended Campus that is driven by the intersection between business and technology, and gain the confidence you need to succeed on the job. 

Programs: IT Management