Unlocking The Power Of Industry Domain Expertise In A Technology Team

Ted Levine, EVP, Consumer Products, Retail, & Services Business Unit Managing Director at Capgemini Americas.

In a world where technology is underpinning enterprise transformation, technology teams are increasingly repositioning themselves as strategic partners.

However, a recent report shows that employees are increasingly disengaged, with only 34% of employees reporting that they are engaged at work. This is down from 36% three years ago. In order to increase engagement, I believe one strategy is to ensure that your employees understand their connection in how they drive your business and its values.

One of the primary ways a technology team can showcase business value is to ensure employees are deeply rooted within their industry domain. With each team member as an expert in their specific industry, they can help shape business priorities, connect technology and make a stronger business impact.

Historically, technology organizations have been hyper-focused on technical expertise, which serves an important role in an employee’s ability to deliver on the task at hand. It’s their technical expertise that greatly helps position technology teams in an organization to be a delivery arm responding to business needs.

But, as technology teams aspire to become more strategic partners in their respective organizations, I think it is critical to begin developing skills at the intersection of industry and technical expertise.

The Importance Of Industry Domain Expertise

Overall, I believe that bringing stakeholders with specific industry knowledge can enable leaders to integrate and build more successful teams—and, as a result, more effectively share information across business functions and align workers to a common purpose.

Below are three reasons why focusing more on industry domain knowledge rather than purely technical skills can help your organization drive employee engagement.

1. It builds integrated high-performing teams.

By creating teams through industry-based training, employee groups become partners with their stakeholders and can clearly demonstrate their business value. This ensures that priorities are aligned and enables technology teams to be collaborative, strategic drivers in helping shape the future of a company.

2. It connects work to industry-oriented purposes.

When a team member is able to combine their functional skills with their industry domain skills, day-to-day tasks become more connected to a bigger-picture goal.

For example, a regression testing initiative might become the backbone for enabling consumers to access mobile payment functionality. Without understanding the details behind the transformation to mobile payments across the retail industry, a team member may not be able to connect their task at hand with what it is delivering to the end consumer. I find that industry domain knowledge achieves increased end-user empathy and a connection to a larger objective and purpose. It also drives employee engagement by connecting the tech team’s work with an industry-oriented purpose.

3. It activates cross-sharing information between verticals.

When upskilling team members, make sure to intentionally cross-share data between industries to help ensure that advancements and innovations in one space are evaluated and applied across other sectors. For example, a hospitality organization could look at expanding its team with expertise from the retail industry, recognizing how the retail industry has been leading the way in loyalty and sustainability technology solutions. This approach ensures that an organization creates innovation through diverse perspectives.

Skills For Employees To Bring To The Table

Leaders need to properly train their team members so that they can have the knowledge that can push them to perform their best in their careers. However, at the same time, individuals should self-advocate to build a foundation of awareness and context for their role and the industry they’re joining.

Below are several areas that employees should consider, and leaders should encourage, to boost domain expertise and increase efficiency, output accuracy and confidence within teams and other groups.

• Hands-on experience in the industry and the motivation to constantly learn about the industry.

• An understanding of the industry’s business model and value chain (i.e., what is relevant to partners and to the end customer).

• Keeping up-to-date on the industry’s emerging trends.

• An understanding of the organization’s strategy and objectives and how those translate into the technology it uses.

While gaining in-depth industry domain knowledge may not occur overnight, gradually working toward an understanding of an organization’s fundamental business principles and best practices is a strong stepping stone. As a leader, I encourage you to foster industry-domain expertise alongside technical skills in order to enhance employee engagement and connect their work to its industry-oriented purpose.

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