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Unilever Trains IT staff to Business Roles

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Quote; ‘Global Manufacturer Unilever is training its IT Services departments to play a more important role in the business’ so says an article by UK Computer Weekly. It carries on to state there are four key points to the article;

  • Unilever’s IT Staff training programme focuses on soft skills
  • IT professionals to engage in strategic conversations with business leaders
  • Involvement of IT in deciding business strategy a result of IT Outsourcing
  • 3000 IT employees across Europe have already entered the programme
Wow! At last a serious sign of recognition that the role of ‘technology’ in a business is crucial, intimately tied to the whole operation of a business, that demands and expectations are changing and most of all that IT as we have known it is only part of the picture. How did I arrive at the last comment? Easy, at least in the context of this article, as it was the outsourcing of the traditional IT operations that has laid the way to bring IT staff into this new role and relationship with the business. However to do this Unilever had to combine training from three different companies to get the coverage of the topics it wanted, and now plans to ask the British Computer Society, BCS, to accredit its programme under its well regarded Information Systems Examination Board. This is the same board that master minded the introduction of the ‘European Computer Driving License’ as a basic test of computer literacy that non IT employers could use to establish the skills level of new staff who would be expected to operate a PC as some part of their work. Add these two different approaches together plus throw in some other good stuff from some of the business schools, take a look at Carnegie Mellon University Tepper Business Management School offering under e-Commerce as an example. It seems as if suddenly there are courses for all the roles involved in making a modern business successful through the use of a wide range of technology tools, as well as just the traditional cost managed business process automation of IT. I coined a term for this new environment back around the time of the first great Internet hype bubble; Techno-Business. Defined as an enterprise where the technology and the business were synonymous in the business model, i.e. the Business could only exist because (IT) technology allowed its business model to exist. Seems now to be obvious, but back then it wasn’t, anyway imagine my delight when in 2007 there was even a successful event under this name in the USA. By tagging this post as ‘techno-business’ it will be interesting to see how many times search engines pick it up! I shall watch with interest!!

About the author

Andy Mulholland
Andy Mulholland
Capgemini Global Chief Technology Officer until his retirement in 2012, Andy was a member of the Capgemini Group management board and advised on all aspects of technology-driven market changes, together with being a member of the Policy Board for the British Computer Society. Andy is the author of many white papers, and the co-author three books that have charted the current changes in technology and its use by business starting in 2006 with ‘Mashup Corporations’ detailing how enterprises could make use of Web 2.0 to develop new go to market propositions. This was followed in May 2008 by Mesh Collaboration focussing on the impact of Web 2.0 on the enterprise front office and its working techniques, then in 2010 “Enterprise Cloud Computing: A Strategy Guide for Business and Technology leaders” co-authored with well-known academic Peter Fingar and one of the leading authorities on business process, John Pyke. The book describes the wider business implications of Cloud Computing with the promise of on-demand business innovation. It looks at how businesses trade differently on the web using mash-ups but also the challenges in managing more frequent change through social tools, and what happens when cloud comes into play in fully fledged operations. Andy was voted one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and is grateful to readers of Computing Weekly who voted the Capgemini CTOblog the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years.

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