How to improve your business acumen as an IT professional
By Fred Latala
In our prior article “The Need for Business Acumen in today’s IT Landscape” we discussed why IT professionals now more than ever should focus on their integration with the business. Today, too many IT professionals think it is the job of someone in corporate to understand the business side of the equation. To improve your business acumen and get a seat at a key table in business, here are some practical suggestions.
Your journey begins with a solid understanding of business concepts and vocabulary. Once you have this foundation set you will need to link your personal and team initiatives to the corporate goals.
A great starting point to learn or refresh some of the basics about financial statements can be found in Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements by Mary Buffett and David Clark. This is a valuable small book that is easy to read and provides a clear understanding of terms and concepts. My own copy is quite worn as I still use it as a reference guide.
In order to truly integrate with your business and improve your business acumen, you need to continually be a student of the game.
- Understand how your company makes money
- Read financial statements
- Read the annual report
- Listen to investor calls
- Subscribe and read news about your company and competitors
- Take advantage of opportunities to hear and read what your executives are sharing about the business
- Invest in yourself, consider adding business publications and education to your self-improvement routine.
- Find a business mentor to challenge you to grow on your journey
Being in tune with all of the dimensions of the business and having the ability to convey the value of an investment in these terms will elevate your business case and yourself in the eyes of your stakeholders.