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A quarter of IT managers in small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are women.
A study by managed services supplier Altodigital found many IT managers in smaller businesses were women, and the perceived importance of the IT team is high in these SMEs.
The research found employees want IT managers to respond quickly to requests, and have technical knowledge and communication skills to explain IT problems.
Tony Burnett, group sales director at Altodigital, said: “The research shows that the stereotypes around people working in technology are being broken down – which is great for this diverse and often challenging industry.”
Many women in IT prefer to work for startups due to their difference in culture; some commentators suggest the personality traits of women suit these environments better.
Almost half of respondents thought the IT department was the most important in their organisation, and 19% said they had called their IT manager a “life-saver” on occasion.
But the skills expected from an IT team are moving away from traditional stereotypes, as employees expect IT staff with communication and interpersonal skills.
Nearly 60% said they’d describe IT staff as helpful; 41% described them as intelligent; and 20% claimed their IT staff had a polite manner.
Growth in demand for soft skills
The recent shift in the use of IT and the need for digital skills led many firms to seek future employees who not only have technical skills, but also interpersonal skills such as time management and teamwork.
Burnett explained an increased reliance on the IT team has developed in smaller businesses as a result of adopting technologies such as cloud, bring your own device strategies and the internet of things.
“IT is no longer an afterthought – it has become one of the most important functions of business. There have been such significant developments in the technology space in the last decade that most businesses have had to move with the times and introduce more technological systems and software to help improve business efficiency,” Burnett said.
“This has led to an increased reliance on our IT managers at all levels, to help support less knowledgeable members of staff with every day issues and they have become an integral part of the team.”
But despite these new technologies, printers are still the IT department’s enemy; 4% admitted they still call the IT department for help if the printer runs out of paper.