Technology today is not what is was years ago. Traditionally the most talented people in an organization—our brightest stars—were most often found in sales, marketing, consulting, R&D, and other similar departments. The IT department would not normally make the short list of where we would look to find up-and-coming leaders and innovators in the business.

But this is now changing for a number of reasons.

The inevitable infusion of young, talented people in IT will benefit the business in ways we might not anticipate today. But change is here my friends, and IT will become home to many stars of the future who possess a unique combination of business skills and technology expertise.

And as we will see, these skills are more important than ever before.

Technology Today is Strategic

The evolution of technology today is pulling organizations in new and exciting directions. This growing power of technology makes it a more strategic part of business than ever before.

When leveraged properly, technology can win new customers, create competitive advantage, cultivate customer loyalty, and drive success for strategic initiatives.

Technology becomes a natural part of the business model and brings strategy to life. It has become so much more than simply tools and data, and we need the talented people of IT—including a new generation of high impact employees—to show the organization how this new generation of technology can best be leveraged to drive the key goals of the business.

The Partnership of Humanity & AI

Few would argue that AI and intelligent technologies will change the course of business over the next 20 years. However, what some might not understand is that AI needs humanity in order to be great, and humanity needs AI equally in order to create a new generation of successful businesses. The humanity side of this partnership will best be met by workers in the organization who are technology savvy and who understand the business model.

In an increasing number of cases, we will place people who have this unique combination of skills in the IT organization in order to keep these human experts close to the technology, or in a hands-on role if you will.

As AI becomes more strategic, a home in IT makes a lot of sense and we will look no further than IT to keep the partnership of humanity and AI alive and thriving. I would take this a step further—the organizations that get this partnership right will emerge as the market leaders of the future, and those that just can’t embrace this new model will be pushed to the side.

The New Career Paths of IT

The traditional career paths in IT have not been as dynamic as many IT professionals would like. The good news is that the time has come for these career opportunities to blossom and thrive in order to complement the new strategic role of technology in the business. The most talented people in the organization will feel the pull to IT as it brings these technology experts closer to the technology that is more powerful than ever and capable of driving business growth and success. This balance of technology expertise with business acumen is more important than ever, and when we find this unique combination of skills living in the same person, they will have access to new career path options and new compensation plan options that did not exist just a few years ago.

These opportunities exist up to and including the CIO who will increasingly become a candidate for promotion to CEO. Not all CIOs will have the necessary aptitude, but some will, and as such will emerge as a new breed of strategic CIO that joins the ranks of the new rock stars of the business and serve as a mentor to the up and coming business analysts and technology product managers we will place and grow in IT. This is a cycle of hiring, nurturing, mentoring and growth that will accelerate to the benefit of all and change the perception of IT across the business.

Compensation Accelerates

The new stars of the business, possessing a unique combination of technology know-how and business acumen, will drive a new level of value across the organization. As we recognize this value, compensation will grow quickly in order to attract and retain these new stars in IT. We should expect the growth of compensation in the IT organization to outpace the remainder of the organization, in many cases far outpacing other teams. Why? Because the rebirth of IT will be driven by these extraordinary organizational athletes now thriving in IT and compensation always follows value and the value will be found in IT. Close to technology, close to our precious data, and moving closer to the customer.

These powerful market and organizational forces will change the face of IT in the years ahead, and forever change how the IT organization is viewed by the business.

Check out Kevin’s book on Amazon: The Practical Guide To World-Class IT Service Management, and follow him on Twitter @kevinjsmith4IT.