Historically, computers were the province of a few technicians who supported accounting and finance, but were otherwise isolated from the organisation. Now that IS/IT has changed the way that business is conducted in the world and accelerated the trend towards globalisation, highlighting a need for a better understanding of cultural issues, contemporary information systems (IS) developments are increasingly challenged as they are required to provide innovative solutions in response to complex problems. This challenge has also led to a vastly expanded role for the traditional IS/IT departments and IS/IT specialists. The new IS/IT development model goes beyond the technical specialist and makes use of cross-functional teams, which comprise both users such as accountants and sales people, IS/IT specialists such as systems analysts and programmers, as well as managers.

The responsibility of the IS/IT system professional is no longer focused on designing information systems, but instead on carefully directing the users to design their own systems. Changing the role of IS/IT from support to a driver of organisational strategies brings with it a need for a different set of skills and competencies in the IS/IT profession. To meet the information processing needs of the new global organisation, IS/IT managers and their IS/IT staff need to develop new skills, so that they may be more focused on the business rather than technical processes.

This chapter 1 provides a literature analysis of the changing skills of IS/IT professionals and identifies the new skills and competencies required for successful IS/IT development and utilisation. The chapter also presents capability-related models that suggest there is a need for improvement in the area of IS/IT leadership for effective IS/IT development and utilisation.