Wanted: IT staffers with vertical industry chops

Fast-changing business processes and ever-mounting government and industry regulations are complicating day-to-day operations -- and making deep vertical industry expertise a must-have.

By , Computerworld |  Networking

One out of five IT staffers on the clinical applications team at Continuum Health Partners in New York is also a nurse, a pharmacist or another type of clinical specialist. For IT managers and directors, a clinical degree is a must.

At $1.3 billion Grange Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, CIO Michael Fergang exclusively recruits IT staffers with insurance industry experience.

Sam Lamonica, CIO at $750 million Rosendin Electric, has taken to luring experienced engineers and operations people in the field to work in IT. Lamonica also admits to "stealing shamelessly" from Rosendin's competitors.

It's not that San Jose-based Rosendin doesn't already have a fabulously talented and experienced IT staff, Lamonica says.

"We have a number of really smart analysts on our business applications team who are mathematics majors as well [as technologists]. The challenge is they're fairly clueless about what goes on at a job site on a given day," he says. And Rosendin typically is working more than 1,500 multimillion-dollar jobs simultaneously in any given month.

Candid CIOs from healthcare, financial services and manufacturing all tell a similar story. Fast-changing business processes, the need for speed, consumers' insatiable appetite for customization and the need to comply with a growing list of government regulations and industry standards are all working to complicate day-to-day operations beyond the most business-savvy technologist's ability to keep pace. Now what is critically necessary are not only technical skills and business knowledge, but also deep industry expertise, the kind that comes from calculating a quote and selling an insurance policy or calibrating and administering intravenous pain medication to a cancer patient, for example.

Think of it as IT-plus.

"At the end of the day, you need a person who gets it all," says Continuum CIO Mark Moroses.

Healthcare reform and the hyper-accelerated pace of change are two of the biggest factors driving the need for IT-plus credentials at Continuum, says Moroses.

"The healthcare industry is highly regulated," and adherence to those regulations is what makes or breaks the bottom line, he says. Under state and federal regulations, Continuum, a partnership of New York's Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Luke's Hospital and Roosevelt Hospital, reports to 11 regulatory agencies. On top of that, there are the hundreds and hundreds of regulations and reporting requirements imposed by insurance companies.

Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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