Understanding the business value IT professionals bring and a call to celebrate IT Professionals Day

Imagine the world without technology—void of computers, the Internet and smartphones.

I know, it’s difficult to do. Technology not only plays an enormous role in the way we live, communicate and interact with each other on a personal basis, but it has arguably an even more significant impact on the way we work—nearly everything in modern business is digitized.

In fact, a recent Harris Poll sponsored by SolarWinds found that three out of five people indicate work productivity is lost without the use of technology, with one-third saying one day’s work would take an additional business day or longer to complete without said technology. Furthermore, fifteen percent said it would not at all be possible to carry out their daily work without it.

Think about your own relationship with technology in the workplace. Can you remember a time when the network went down, your laptop crashed or corporate email was slow? Chances are you can, and vividly so (my apologies if this induced post-traumatic stress). Now think about the “ahh” moment when those technology issues were resolved. It was good feeling, wasn’t it? But how often do you think about the person who gives you that feeling of relief when he or she seemingly magically makes your sacred technology and devices work like they’re expected?

Unfortunately, if you’re like most, it’s probably not that often. See, that person, or often a set of people, is the IT professional, or department, as it were, working tirelessly behind the scenes putting in place, managing and fixing the technologies used to make businesses run. And they often don’t feel appreciated for the work or value they bring to the business, despite that value being very high. How do I know this? Another recent SolarWinds survey found that three out of five IT professionals feel at most moderately valued at work, with more than one-quarter feeling only slightly valued.

I believe the reason for this is because most people don’t fully understand all that IT professionals really do. In fact, according to the Harris Poll, half of non-IT folks either don’t understand at all or have just a little understanding of the role IT professionals play in business beyond responding to employees’ occasional technology issues. Perhaps this describes you at least to some degree.

However, there is so much more that IT professionals do to keep you productive and your company up and running. The behind-the-scenes technology foundation of modern business is an incredibly complex set of computing systems, applications, networks, digital storage, databases and more that all must be built and then run in harmony with each other to provide you with the level of productivity you enjoy at work, not to mention that it must all be secured against cyber-attacks. If all this is done well, and more often than you realize, it is, you probably don’t question or even notice that’s it happening.

Yes, technology and the IT professionals behind it impact nearly everything we do today. As a result, IT professionals are now being called upon to do even more than keep the technological foundation of modern businesses strong—with technology at the heart of success, they are now also expected to help their companies make informed, strategic business decisions concerning emerging technologies, where more or fewer resources are needed, where compliance and security risks lie and how technology can best be used to meet critical business goals. In short, they now play an important part in determining how innovative and transformative companies can be. It’s a heavy new responsibility on top of an already weighty role for sure.

What’s my point in all this? I’m here to suggest that we do a little more to give IT professionals the recognition they deserve.

One way to do that is through IT Professionals Day. Taking place on September 15, 2015 and every third Tuesday of September thereafter, IT Professionals Day has been created to honor not only system administrators, but network engineers, database administrators, information security professionals, software developers, IT support technicians and all other professionals serving in IT-related roles. It’s a simple way to say thank you for all they do to keep business on the whole running smoothly.

So, the next time you see one of your company’s IT professionals at the water cooler, please reach out to say happy IT Professionals Day and thanks for the hard work they do to keep you connected and productive. Knowing quite a few IT professionals, my guess is that they’ll return the gratitude with a thank you of their own for the hard work you do, too.