To be a better technologist…

… you have to look beyond the technology.

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend who is CEO and founder of a successful information security consultancy firm. The great thing about his industry at the moment is that there is more demand (ie information and systems that needs to be secured) than supply (ie resources to secure said information / systems), but the challenge he faced was finding resources that have business-savvy. Being able to cross-pollinate an understanding of business needs, cost-benefit justification, risk tolerance / mitigation, etc with InfoSec skills is highly valuable, but also extremely rare apparently.

The same is equally true in OSS. Those rare beasts that are the best I’ve met at this caper all have an understanding of the business and customers as well as the technology. It seems little coincidence that they have the technical competence BECAUSE they understand what’s most important to the businesses they serve. Not just technical competence, but the right technical competence. They understand what’s important and can focus on developing the technical skills to cater for those needs beyond all others.

We discussed how the most valuable resources in our industries are not just the ones that can develop solutions, but the ones that can develop business. The ones that can delight customers, engender trust, develop lasting relationships and bring in projects are in far shorter supply, and far greater demand, than the pure technologists that get in, get the job done, then get out again.

So my constant reminder to any technologist who cares to listen, especially those early in their careers, the best technologists are not the ones who focus solely on the technology.

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