Happy business people clapping in the conference room

On the third Tuesday of September, IT Pro Day is celebrated across all different sectors as an opportunity to pay homage to the IT professionals who keep our businesses up and running.

Although the work IT pros do for their companies is indispensable, it can be easy to overlook as the majority of hard work happens behind the scenes. Therefore, it is enormously important that we take opportunities, such as IT Pro Day, to show our admiration for the backbone of our organisations and celebrate the great work they do.

This IT Pro Day, WeAreTechWomen spoke to nine industry experts to discover more about the roles of IT professionals, and what we can do to support them.

Keeping operations up and running

Samantha-Humphries Exabeam“IT professionals are commonly expected to wear multiple hats and also be the first point of contact when things go wrong, yet all too often are the unsung heroes of the organisation”, explains Samantha Humphries, Head of Security Strategy EMEA at Exabeam. “The go-to for all things technical and analytical, they are responsible for so many aspects of a company’s IT systems, including designing and building technical controls which provide visibility and security of sensitive data, maintaining an array of technology systems which govern the handling of data, and compliance with GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and other privacy legislation. And that’s just for starters.“

Sascha Giese, SolarWinds“Let’s face it—IT no longer just supports an organisation. IT is basically running it”, adds Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds. “The past 18 months have been challenging for everyone, our public sector organisations in particular, and it’s put a spotlight on IT that wasn’t there before. Teams received recognition for their work in supporting the next normal—before, these pros may have remained in more of a supporting role behind the scenes. Keeping a country’s vital public services running despite all the obstacles created by the pandemic was no mean feat, and the IT professionals in public organisations have played a huge role in making this possible.”

Digital Transformation

Of course, it has not just been COVID that IT professionals have had to contend with in these past 18 months. As we continue further into the 21st century, organisations are continuing to undergo more advanced and complex digital transformation – none of which would be possible without the support of our IT pros.

Roger Walton, Resistant AIRoger Walton, Chief Revenue Officer, Resistant.AI points out that, “the roles and responsibilities of our IT professionals have changed dramatically, especially so in the past few years as the digital-first approach has taken hold. As organisations undertake their digital transformation journeys, responsibility for the design, implementation, security and upkeep of the underpinning tech stack falls to our IT pros. If you then throw into the mix the ongoing IT skills shortage and selectivity of projects to be involved with, budget constraints, and the 18-month pandemic, it is fair to say that this group of professionals have their work cut out for them.

“The automation of IT itself, is without doubt, a critical development, enabling IT Pros to not only keep their heads above water, but to innovate and digitally transform the way they are doing their jobs. Take fraud prevention, for example. Incidents of fraud have sky-rocketed. A recent report from the University of Portsmouth estimated it’s costing the UK £137 billion a year. That’s an eye-watering amount of money.”

Dwain Stuart, Content GuruOf course, IT professionals aren’t just transforming the world of fraud prevention. In the contact centre industry, “IT professionals have worked behind the scenes to ensure that physical equipment, from servers to laptops, is suited to this new working environment, and have supported agents by migrating equipment from physical contact centres to home offices,” highlights Dwain Stuart, Production Engineer at Content Guru. “The challenge moving forwards will be bringing agents back to a hybrid environment, with some remaining at home while others return to physical sites. Like many industries, the contact centre has changed irrevocably over the last 18 months and IT pros have their work cut out to ensure this transition goes smoothly.”

Nicola Kinsella, Fluent CommerceE-commerce has also been another sector that has seen rapid growth and digital transformation in the past few years. Nicola Kinsella, VP of Global Marketing at Fluent Commerce explains, “IT Professionals are the cornerstone of every company. And with the ecommerce industry expected to exceed $563 billion by 2025 in the United States alone, we need them more than ever. Without the cloud infrastructure team our platform couldn’t run smoothly and scale dynamically. If it weren’t for our product engineers we couldn’t deliver the functionality retailers and brands need to meet the expectations of today’s digitally savvy consumers. They are the tireless, often ‘behind the scenes’ backbone of our company. So today, and everyday, we say thank you to our IT Pros who do the hard work so that we can achieve the greatest results.”

Safeguarding from threats

Chris Rogers, ZertoIn addition to keeping up with the ever-changing challenge of digital transformation, one of the greatest tasks IT professionals face today is protecting businesses from cybersecurity threats, be that malicious or accidental. Chris Rogers, Technology Evangelist at Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company notes, “for IT professionals, the working world is no longer the same place it was 18 months ago. From the rush to get employees operational for remote working almost overnight in early 2020, to today’s gradual slide into a hybrid working model, the IT pro has had to adapt quickly. These changes have presented clear cybersecurity risks. IDC reported that, in the past 12 months, 95% of organisations have experienced a ransomware or malware attack. Today, all organisations – big or small – are prioritising both protection and availability – 24/7, 365 days a year. The pressure on IT pros to deliver this is enormous. The weight of ensuring their organisation remains resilient in the wake of any disruption sits firmly on their shoulders. It’s a huge task made even more challenging by having to achieve this in a hybrid work environment.”

Diane Albano, Globalization PartnersDiane Albano, Chief Revenue Officer at Globalization Partners, adds, “IT teams have had to work quickly and efficiently to ensure valuable company and customer data stays private and secured. Multiple new access points being utilised by remote and hybrid workers, including phone apps and at-home Wi-Fi networks have added to the challenge.

“Security or personal data breaches take a massive toll on a company both financially and reputationally. Any downtime that prevents employees or customers from accessing a company’s services or database, even for a minimum amount of time, can have long-term financial repercussions.”

Neil Jones, EgnyteNeil Jones, Cybersecurity Evangelist at Egnyte, continues, “IT Pros are the experts that organisational leadership calls upon when companies face complex threats such as ransomware attacks, insider threat activity and compromised credentials. All of the content and communication tools they manage are vulnerable without proper data governance, so IT Pros are leaders in protecting sensitive data. Companies that really want their IT Pros to be successful will provide them with career development opportunities and resources they need to be successful on an ongoing basis. Today we recognise them for the tireless work they do to make all of our jobs easier.”

A chance to celebrate

Chris Hornung, TotalmobileThis IT Pro Day, show your appreciation for the employees who make everything possible. “The best IT pros will often go without recognition, because when your IT is running smoothly, you don’t even know they’re working hard behind the scenes,” summarises Chris Hornung, COO at Totalmobile. “Without IT pros, remote workers would be more susceptible to problems – such as server failures, overloaded systems and downtime – preventing them from maintaining high customer service levels. In particular, platforms such as scheduling software and mobile workforce management tools have been vital for helping frontline workers keep up with customer demands and stay safe. By stepping up, IT pros have enabled workers to carry out their day to day operations largely uninterrupted by the effects of COVID.”