There’s a weird set of paradoxes that appear to be opening up in the realm of technology management in business at the moment; on the one hand technology is becoming increasingly commoditized so that the needs for running technical stuff – servers, email systems and so on – in house is diminishing.

At the same time, the technology that does look like it’s going to add value in the longer term (services based on Application Programming Interfaces – APIs), machine-to-machine mechanisms to expose data and functionality is esoteric and hard for non-technologists to get a grasp of – especially when it comes to describing business value. As one of the central planks of my Digital Architecture work puts it, we can and are likely to see value in the things that are visible. APIs are rarely visible.

This weird simpler/harder paradox (at a time when technology is getting simpler, businesses need harder to understand technology skills in house) is then hampered by another challenge. As the rise of Cloud and SaaS continues to make the decisions about technology something that can (and is ) done in the places where it is consumed, technology departments increasingly need to rely on the softer skills of influence to achieve a cohesive, integrated and well-managed technology architecture.

Soft skills and deep technology expertise aren’t mutually compatible bedfellows.

This strikes me as something of a continuing (and possibly deepening) management challenge now and in the years to come. Approaches like Business Relationship Management or Business Partnering might go some way to help address it. Increasingly, though, it’s going to be a matter of increasing the technology skills and knowledge of the non-technologists.

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