Editor's Desk

The Influencer

Just because you don't have a "C" at the beginning of your title doesn't mean you're not influential.

When outsiders like magazine publishers and product vendors study the world of IT, a great debate always rages over who makes purchasing decisions. Is it the CTO? The CIO? The line-of-business manager? The MIS manager? And on and on.

In fact, IT purchasing decisions are often made not by so-called C-level folks, but by the technical people in the trenches. That’s you. You’re what I call an influencer. That means when a problem comes up in your organization, you pinpoint the answer, research solutions, make recommendations—and fill out the check request. You do everything but sign it. You heavily influence your company’s technical strategies by structuring the problem and formulating the responses—and by understanding the details behind the decisions.

According to our latest readership survey, the organizations where you work have an average of 249 servers and 3,441 workstations. Those are not insignificant numbers.

You're what I call an influencer. When a problem comes up, you pinpoint the answer, identify approaches, research solutions, and fill out the check requests.

The same survey says a quarter of you work for Microsoft partner companies. That means you have the power to effect decision-making in the companies where you consult. And since the trend these days is toward outsourcing, that influence will only grow.

Ironically, outsiders often have trouble understanding your influence. Despite our title, only a fraction of our editorial pages every month focuses on career and certification topics. The bulk of the magazine is devoted to a mammoth number of product reviews, detailed technical coverage, and hardcore how-to columns. We tailor the content to MCPs in the field. You do far more on the job than prepare for your next exam. In fact, most of you have trouble finding time to study at all—work is too demanding.

It’s time for you to proclaim your true value to your employers and the outside world—and it’s not just as an MCSE. You’re the person who works for a solution provider and is called to the client site to figure out how to make the business work better. You’re the person who recognizes the relative advantage of NAS over SAN and speaks up in the technical meeting to point out the flaws in the thinking of the VP of technology. You understand the details—and the tools—behind successful network migrations, data transformation, desktop deployment, messaging, clustering, and a hundred other technical topics. At the same time you’re doing what you can to glean insights into how to talk to the business leaders, develop ROI, and turn your operations into more than a cost center.

I believe you, the experienced, Windows networking professional, compose a sleeper audience. If vendors truly understood how IT works within most organizations, they’d realize the importance of decisions made by the technical professionals who install, configure and support the networked systems that make business work. When that day comes, expect software and hardware companies alike to start wooing you with a vengeance.

How are you using your influence to steer your company toward the right technical decisions? Tell me at [email protected].

[Note: This article was re-edited June 20, and may appear different from when it was first posted on June 12. —Michael Domingo, Editor]

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.


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