An innovation manager could wear different hats depending on the company — and some have argued innovation should be baked into each department as a matter of course. Nevertheless, the speed of change in business has some firms hiring an executive to keep an eye on emerging technology.
“Innovation managers are focused on defining and developing new processes, products or services,” says Cloud Technology Partners’ Linthicum. “Often working for the chief innovation officer, they are the ones that are asked to have their minds on the future, and think creatively.”
Gopinathan Padmanabhan, who is, in fact, a chief innovation officer (and president) of global delivery at IT services company Mphasis, argues the role of innovation manager is to seek out challenges — and find solutions by developing projects with business partners and customers.
“Developing cutting-edge IT needs to be fast,” Padmanabhan says. “Today’s competitive market requires a wide range of skills: digital strategy, development and user experience … data, research and operations — and that can be hard to find quickly. We find that working hand-in-hand with our partners allows us to build a strong talent pool. This role is critical for not only future-proofing our company with an experienced team, but to develop and maintain key relationships with our customers to deliver real business value and impact.”
Automation is, of course, an old tech standby, but as companies seek to automate their data centers, new challenges arise that require an actual human to address them. Job posting service ZipRecruiter says this job title saw nearly 500 percent growth from 2016 to 2017.
“Digital transformation has highlighted and emphasized the need for a holistic, comprehensive automation strategy,” says Neville Kroeger, product marketing manager at Automic Software. “Automation has always been the unsung hero of IT, working in the background to ensure applications are running as required. Today, however, applications have become the face of the enterprise and they have to be available, reliable and ever-improving. It’s universally agreed that effective automation in all areas of IT is an absolute requirement in order to achieve this. It’s absolutely critical that enterprises implement an automation strategy that will serve them now and in the future.”
Sungard’s Loeppke says the role of automation architect is now fundamental to devops — and he sees the role growing to address other departments.
“In the IT world, you often hear the phrase ‘Software is eating the world,’ meaning more and more companies are running on software. Automation of this software is critical for companies to maintain reliable environments while managing cost. The build-out and tear-down of infrastructure, deployment of code, and testing via automation are table stakes for success. An automation architect could be part of any team that’s writing code. In my opinion, the job might not call for a new hire, but rather additional training for existing teams — software development, operations, QA/test teams, etc.”
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