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In Singapore, IT managers serve as a vital bridge between the professionals and hardware that keep a company’s technology in working order and the employees that rely on that technology to conduct business.
Since the pandemic and as new workplace technology continues to develop, the IT Manager’s role has evolved to keep up with the changing needs of both sides.
For candidates preparing for the next stage of their technology career in Singapore, here's insight in to how to become an IT Manager in Singapore.
History of IT managers
The title of IT manager (sometimes synonymous with CIO, depending on the company), has its roots in the late 1980s and 1990s.
The job evolved from the electronic data processing manager and data processing manager roles in the early days of computing, beginning with the mainframe era in the 1960s.
End users and the impact of computer downtime on a business’s bottom line were not even blips on the radar.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, IT departments were separate entities within companies and were responsible for controlling massive mainframe computers that served the entire business.
The isolated nature of the IT department meant that information technology professionals rarely had contact with other employees within the company. By the late 1980s, distributed computing environments began to appear, leading to smaller IT departments organised by business division or geography.
In the early 1990s, some of the first IT managers, then more likely called MIS managers, were tasked with ensuring that key management members had the necessary information systems at their disposal.
When mainframe computing began to disappear in the mid-1990s and gave way to enterprise resource planning (ERP), the role of the IT manager expanded to provide solutions to entire departments and organisations, rather than a single manager.
How IT managers work today in Singapore
Today, the IT manager’s core duties include overseeing in-house networks, managing technology upgrades, choosing appropriate hardware/software, and maintaining a company’s servers and computers.
IT managers in Singapore may also be responsible for structuring and testing an organisation’s network, as well as training employees on how to use network components and coaching their own teams.
Many of the functions that were important in the early days are still important today.
However, IT managers must now stay up to date on the latest developments in technology, which, as virtually everyone knows today, changes at breakneck speed.
Planning migrations to the cloud and protecting confidential information from security threats have become common tasks.
Additionally, as computing becomes more and more vital to business, information technology managers are becoming increasingly integrated with the day-to-day operations of other departments within a company.
While in the past the IT department was seen as a siloed, foreign entity, the expansion of IT within the modern company and the shift of technology to the cloud have done much to reverse this trend.
The IT Manager is now an integral player in business strategy, ensuring that technology helps spur business growth for organisations in Singapore.
How to be an effective IT Manager in Singapore
IT managers must possess the technical skills to diagnose risks and gains associated with changes in a company’s technology, but they must also learn to effectively communicate these to others in the company, including marketing, business development and executive teams.
Doing so bridges the gap between the IT department and other teams within the company and helps ensure that technology upgrades do not jeopardise business transactions or the customer experience.
Companies in Singapore look for top candidates with a bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field, plus at least five years of experience with the specific types of business systems, hardware and networking services utilised by the firm. Demonstrated leadership is also a must.
Singaporean employers expect IT managers to possess the following:
- Business acumen and staff management skills
- Interpersonal and communication skills
- Be able to analyse workflow, delegate projects and meet departmental goals
- Develop and monitor performance standards
- Provide input on hiring decisions for technical staff
- Implement and monitor new projects
- Manage performance of and delegate projects to team members
IT managers need both a technical and a business background, as well as strong people management skills. IT managers must be effective advocates for the IT strategy as well as translate non-technical expectations into achievable IT solutions.
In other words, these individuals must be fantastic communicators who can decipher business lingo and decode software speak.
An IT Manager who thinks analytically is also very important, as this position involves not just problem resolution, but process development around how to prioritise and remediate those issues.
In addition, a strong customer service orientation is integral because IT managers often serve as the final escalation point for high-visibility troubleshooting.