Staying current on your tech chops is always a good idea, right? But according to Mark Myers of Data center infrastructure and services provider Datalink, it might be your softer skills – that facile way you have of explaining to your mother exactly what she wants in her next technology purchase or your ability to charm the opposite sex at a party – that might be your ticket to a higher pay grade. If you are the one people come to for explanations – pulling you away from your own work to help them with theirs – maybe you should take a look in the mirror and consider if that human ability to translate the arcane for the general population is a super-power. Or at least the spark of one.
These days there is so much technical information that goes into making intelligent decisions about equipment acquisitions, setting up for trade shows, outsourcing data storage, designing an in-house end-user tool, and a host of other business situations that companies need people who understand the technology but are also capable of speaking in complete English sentences and seeing outside their own code to how that technology fits into a bigger picture. “Businesses need someone who can translate IT for the business side,” says Myers. That job, he suggests, comes with a title: Business liaison. “A business liaison is someone who can talk IT from a technical point of view to people who don’t understand the technology,” he says. “I have never spoken to anyone in a business unit who can talk with enough expertise about IT even to ask the right questions about data and hardware. Watching technical people and business people try to converse is like watching two people saying the same thing in two different languages.”
So companies need people with technical skills and the conversation chops to translate it. In fact, large companies probably need a few people to fill this role. “As we evolve and technology gets more and more complex and functional, it gets harder for any one person to keep up with all of it. You need people who can work together and explain the technical aspects they are expert at to everyone else.”
These roles will not be entry level positions, though. “This is someone who has been in IT for a while and understands the business,” says Myers. But it is worth considering, when planning a career, that the ability to communicate in tech lingo as well as layman’s English might have cash value or lead to more interesting work somewhere down the road. “Increasingly companies will need to get their smart people off the keyboard and focused on strategy,” says Myers. “And this liaison job will evolve into a higher paying role.”
So maybe all that time you spend breaking things down for Mom wasn’t so much wasted time as practice for the future?