One of my all-time favourite British sitcoms made a reappearance on TV recently. The IT Crowd revolves around three staff members of an IT department: two IT technicians and their head of department / relationship manager. Despite a complete lack of computer skills - she doesn’t know what IT stands for, believes the internet lives in a little black box and thinks you will break the internet if you type ‘Google’ into Google - she finds her niche by bridging the gap between the techies and the business (or trying to).
Eight years since the first episode aired in the UK, it would now seem that the role of a business relationship manager has a much needed place in today’s increasingly technically orientated business world.
The BRM role serves to provide a communication channel between the business customer and the service provider. In our IT skills gap webinar, it was unanimously recognised that although there are many technical skills gaps (data science, analytics, user interface design, next generation infrastructure...), there is an equally important gap to fill when it comes to soft skills to ensure a good relationship is maintained. In order that IT can better influence business strategy, the panel agreed that businesses are increasingly taking a more partnership-based approach where people with technical skills understand the business, and equally business people understand the technology.
The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) defines business relationship management as ‘the process responsible for maintaining a positive relationship with customers, identifying customer needs and ensuring that the service provider is able to meet these needs with an appropriate catalogue of services.’ In our recently published IT role book about the business relationship manager, author Ernest Brewer likens a BRM to the roman god Janus who with two faces ‘looks simultaneously at the past and future, to beginnings and endings.’ By having a focus on both the customer and the service provider, this role is hugely important when building (and maintaining) strong relationships between all parties to ensure both sides are getting the most of their association.
As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, I think that maybe unwittingly, The IT Crowd had a point to make. Maybe not in the comedy way of helping techies being more approachable, but certainly in bridging the gap between the technical and business world.
If you’re a BRM, or in a similar position, and would like tell us more about your role please get in touch.
About the author
Karen Manning joined BCS in 2008 working in the Marketing Team. Having graduated in marketing in the pre-www era, she has relished the challenge to keep up to date with the latest developments in technology and new media.