IT is constantly evolving and changing, with innovations and technologies emerging all the time.
By Mduduzi Mbiza
To stay relevant and competitive in the dynamic field of IT, individuals and organisations need to be willing to learn from their experiences and embrace change. “If you can think logically, ask the right questions, use common sense, and have people around you who can answer your questions, you can tackle anything,” says Oliver Krantz, co-founder and chief technology officer at Impact Rooms.
Organisations often stick with specific processes because “they’ve always done it like that” and/or “it’s industry standard”, he notes. This means the organisation doesn’t know what they are doing, because they don’t explain why they use the processes.
This is often due to a combination of factors, he says, such as resistance to change, fear of disrupting established systems, and a desire to maintain consistency.
In this case, Oliver suggests organisations should evaluate their processes and consider if there are better ways of doing things. This can involve looking at established practices with a fresh eye, seeking new ideas and perspectives, and being open to change.
“You get very blind when you’re in one company for too long,” he says, adding that an IT person who’s been in one company for 10 years is worth much less than an IT person who’s been with three companies over the space of 10 years.
The wealth of experience gained from different companies makes one realise, as Oliver puts it, that most companies in similar stages have the same IT problems, despite the industry. These IT problems can include issues related to infrastructure, security, data management, and scalability.
Oliver shares that looking at other companies, understanding what they are doing, and learning from them have kept him fresh in his career. He adds that people should not call themselves CIOs if they are younger than 30, arguing that one needs the necessary experience to get to that level.
Oliver has held CTO/ CIO positions in global corporations and startup companies. In the last decade, he has performed dozens of technical and operational due diligence projects across Africa, the Middle East and south-east Asia.
He notes that in South Africa – and Africa – we lack experience, but we also lose a lot of experienced individuals to countries abroad, a necessary evil. “In life you don’t get paid for what you know, you get paid for your experience,” he says. “IT people have to move. If they don’t move, they get old and stale, and their value decreases.
“We have to embrace change. Even if you’re not looking for a job, just go for interviews,” he adds.
Oliver shares that he learns much from working with people rather than reading books. This helps him learn specifics and understand why certain things must be done a certain way. Oliver also believes that this approach helps him understand mistakes in business and figure out why the business made that mistake.
“There’s always a solution in IT – there’s no way it can’t be done, and there will always be someone who can solve the problem.”
For those interested in working in the industry, he advises: “It doesn’t matter what you study. You just need to get your foot into the door somewhere, and then work hard and use the opportunities that come your way. Everybody has it in themselves to decide how fast and how far they are willing to go.”