Digital transformation: Your career at a crossroads

IT leaders find themselves in need of new skills and strategies, thanks to digital transformation. Here’s how to keep ahead of the curve before digital disruption curtails your career aspirations.

Digital transformation: Your career at a crossroads
Mitya Ilyinov via Wikimedia Commons

James Lowey has seen a lot of change during his career, which began in 1992, managing computer labs at several companies and doing what he calls “the pre-Y2K flurry of IT projects.”

Lowey, CIO at genomics and cancer research company TGen, earned his early IT chops working on systems like Windows NT 3.1, Solaris, AIX, HP-UX and Linux. Since joining TGen 14 years ago, he’s been responsible for the development of two supercomputers. Instead of worrying about how to keep his own skills current, Lowey finds that it’s more challenging keeping up with the pace of scientific discovery and the technology that enables it – which he says often moves faster than most IT technological change.

Consequently, he spends over 50 percent of his time learning about new scientific technologies and methodologies to help keep TGen on the cutting edge of biomedical research.

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“Some of the ways that I learn about new technologies [are] spending considerable time at trade shows and other industry events, as well as partnering with major technology players and [venture capital] firms in order to learn about new technologies as soon as possible,” he says.

Lowey is certainly not alone. As digital transformation becomes a more frequent part of the enterprise lexicon, CIOs and other IT leaders find themselves scrambling to update their skills and capabilities as they forge ahead in their modernization efforts. Those who prepare reap the benefits: 71% say their standing within the business has improved in the past three years, and 60% say they are able to influence broader company strategy compared with 45% of their traditional CIO peers, according to a report from Ernest & Young.

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