People first, then technology


Johannesburg, 06 Nov 2007
Read time 4min 00sec

ICT companies continue to place a premium on recruiting the best skills available - and it should come as no surprise to discover just how significant the human resource has become in this sector.

So claims Robert Sussman, joint-MD of Integr8 IT, South Africa`s largest privately owned national BEE ICT network integration and infrastructure management specialist.

An investment in technology and infrastructure has to be aligned to the knowledge capital of an organisation, Sussman argues. In other words, solutions and product should accentuate the skills and collective acumen of the labour force behind a business.

This, he says, is an integral part of the trend to shape technology around the business and not the other way around.

The HR philosophy at the organisation run by Sussman is built around several key principles, which include the need to create a learning organisation where knowledge is shared and retained, an open plan to ensure social interaction and the notion that problems do not age well.

"The calibre of people is a company`s most prized asset. ICT is an ultra-competitive sector and, contrary to what some may assume, it is not simply technology and the use thereof that differentiates one entity from another. In fact, it is the skills, ability, efficiency and consistency of people that makes a difference," says Sussman.

"Challenges and issues that do arise need to be quickly addressed and sorted out because a lingering problem will quickly infect the rest of the organisation."

Sussman acknowledges that changes are taking place in terms of HR management in the workplace.

"It is refreshing to see a whole host of traditional practices flying out the proverbial `office window`," he quips. "Not least of which is the outdated practice of retaining knowledge at the top of the organisation and blocking all efforts to have the benefit of this expertise filter through to the rest of the organisation."

But what should companies do with their skills base once they have been successfully inducted into the business?

Sussman believes ICT skills are still considered a sought-after commodity within both the private and public sector, and that companies realise the necessity in making the working environment as attractive as possible for employees.

"The historical approach of keeping someone tied to a desk from nine to five, with structured breaks and minimal interaction, is long gone. The typical IT environment is professional and service-orientated, but there are specific perks that are designed to make the employee feel part of the company and to ease the pressure," he adds. "Anything from canteens through to rest and recreation areas now characterise the modern IT organisation."

It is Sussman`s contention that the industry has, for some time now, placed emphasis on the retention of a skills base. This is partially due to the fact that IT has traditionally been known for its generally high employee turnover rate.

"There is no doubt that IT and its evolution into the information and communication technology space is accepted as a fluid sector. People tend to move in and out of positions, gain experience and then move on to other things. This is changing and there is a concerted effort among employers to keep skills in-house," he continues.

However, according to Sussman, the competitive nature of ICT will ensure those that do not change internally faster than the world changes externally, will become obsolete.

"The market has moved to hiring business people and training them in technology. It is the one consistency in securing competitive advantage and this advantage is no longer viewed on like it used to be; it is the direct result of marrying three important silos of a company - culture, course and cast," he adds.

Sussman is in agreement with the industry as far as a need for a more concerted effort to develop skills is concerned.

"We do run an internship programme that continues to make a significant contribution towards this process. This programme is designed to assist individuals by offering them practical, hands-on experience at various levels of operation. The idea is to train and empower people with the idea of having them remain on board with the company. Additionally, we regularly send our people on training and other knowledge building initiatives, both locally and overseas, to ensure they have the very latest in globally established and endorsed information," he adds.

Integr8 IT

Integr8 IT is South Africa`s largest privately owned national BEE ICT network integration and infrastructure management specialist.

A renowned leader in the field of system integration, infrastructure management and support services, the company employs over 350 full-time highly skilled professionals.

Integr8 IT is the innovator, founder and operator of the only South African-based Nerve Centre (www.nervecentre.co.za), providing a digital hub to manage and regulate many of the country`s leading corporations.

The company`s core focus is on network infrastructures specialising in design, planning, deployment, management and maintenance. Integr8 IT has offices in South Africa, Botswana, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. The South African Offices are found in Gauteng, Cape Town, Durban, and it has representation in Port Elizabeth, East London, and across the southern Africa region.

Integr8 IT is a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner for Advanced Infrastructure Solutions, Network Infrastructure Solutions, Information Worker Solutions, and OEM Solutions.

It has been acknowledged and accredited with many awards, namely: Microsoft Gold Partner of the Year, African ICT Achievers - CIO of the Year for Africa, Best Customer Experience of the Year, Network Infrastructure Solution of the Year, Security Solution of the Year for Middle East, Africa, & Eastern Europe, Advanced Infrastructure Solutions, and many others, every year, since its inception.

Named as one of the country`s Top ICT Companies and honoured with a position among South Africa`s Technology Top 100 Companies, Integr8 IT has established itself as a strategic partner with numerous internationally-recognised technology vendors and industry leaders.

Editorial contacts
MicroZone Chris Tredger (012) 803 6335 chris@micro-zone.co.za
Integr8 Robert Sussman (021) 418 0000 roberts@integr8it.com
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