While doing a little research for the Workers' Compensation Technology Alliance, I stumbled across the fact that, while national unemployment continues to fester at 9.2%, the rate for the technology sector was much lower at a surprising 3.3%.

This could explain why I still have a job….

Moreover, an article published in USA Today indicates that much of the demand within IT is for people who can leverage “business skills” into an IT position and “help make employees more valuable to their organizations”. In other words, someone who 1) understands business AND bytes, and 2) does not have the communication skills of a wombat.  Both of those requirements are sadly missing in some otherwise truly talented tech-heads.

CIO's have long cited the lack of business knowledge as an impediment to technology based project development. The lack of understanding process flows and end user needs often means a tech project must endure painful delays and expensive revisions. Allowing a set of programmers to develop software for an industry they do not know is a bit like asking Ernest Borgnine to design women's undergarments. They might still fit with some effort, but it's not going to be pretty.

Understanding the business model, goals and objectives are paramount in laying the foundation of any IT project, and I have long encouraged professionals within the workers' comp industry to improve and enhance their technology skills. The professional who can “crossover” in these skill sets has a much better chance of long term employment and success. Becoming a “tech translator”; a person who knows the business and its needs, and can communicate with both the business and IT sides in a project, can make you a very valuable and sought after person. In the current economic environment, this would seem a logical thing to do, for those who are so inclined.

To do this you do not need to have expert knowledge in technology, but you need to understand some fundamentals in it. Continuing or adult education classes are available from many vocational and community colleges. Subscribing to tech oriented business publications and looking for technology related sessions at conferences will also help you keep abreast of IT trends and important changes. They are readily available. For example, the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference this year (Las Vegas, NV, Nov. 8-10) is offering a 3 ½ hour pre-conference symposium on technology in the workers' comp industry (In the interest of full disclosure, I am moderating that particular event).  Even if you cannot fully immerse yourself in technology, you should make yourself as aware of it as possible.

Personally, the statistic of 3.3% IT unemployment gives me hope that despite my wombat-ish communication skills there may be a fallback for me, should this whole “web thingy” prove to be a passing fad……

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