The IT vs non-IT Lens, pt. 3 of Career
Trajectories for NJ PMs
by Beth Kugan, PMINJ Contributor
“What did you say you were again?” – Beth’s Mom
Doubtlessly, others besides myself are asked the question: “What
kind of Project Manager are you?
One way to answer is to name an industry vertical – as we’ve
been discussing in the previous two essays of this series.
However, if, like me, you are maximizing future
possibilities during networking, there needs to be a better
answer. Usually I say “Technical, but non-IT,” because I’ve
come to believe there’s a divide between IT and non-IT
project management and that is widening over time.
Consider vocabulary. With the ascendency of Agile and
DevOps, IT-focused PMs and non-IT PMs
who use waterfall-based processes end up using different
terms for meetings, prototyping and test, even manager
titles. Also, those of us who’ve been reading job
descriptions for PMs will doubtlessly have the noticed a
difference in requirements and credentials for PMs focusing
Using the IT/non-IT lens, how does PMINJ look? As a rough
cut, let us consider these industries as IT-heavy: IT
Services, Financial Services, Consulting and Telecom.
Because of the software piece, half of these members in
these industries will be included: Aerospace and Automotive.
The non-IT category was everything else. No speculation was
made about those members who did not state an industry.
The answer to what PMINJ looks like is roughly half of us
are in IT-heavy professions and one third are in tangible
products and services. We’ve touched on differences in
industry-specific tasks that lead labor statisticians to all
but ignore the job title project manager, even as they
recognize the value of the work and certifications. But is
the divide between project management in the two supersets
laid out here really growing?
Let’s consider mega-trends that may be disruptors starting
with a list from IT
: the expansion of Cloud Computing, Bring Your
Own Device (BYOD), Server Consolidation + Virtualization,
Block Chain, and the confluence of Big Data + Social Media.
PMI itself offers a much longer list
many of which are applicable to non-IT as well:
Entrepreneurship Rising, Global Marketplace, Urban World,
All these current and eminent disruptors will have a larger
impact on IT and non-IT sectors. Block-chain technology is
the prime example. Unquestionably, will be a disrupter to
IT, the only question is when.
According to the Sloane School of Management at MIT,
blockchain technology is hard to understand and predict,
much like the internet in its early years. Yet it could
become ubiquitous in the exchange of digital and physical
goods, information, and online platforms. At a high level,
blockchain technology allows a network of computers to agree
at regular intervals on the true state of a distributed
accounting ledger. The ledger is often secured through a
clever mix of cryptography and game theory, and does not
require trusted nodes like traditional networks
This is what allows a bitcoin or other cryptocurrency to
transfer value across the globe without resorting to
traditional intermediaries such as banks. Got that? You can
now obviate banks, although obviously they won’t stand still
block chain software combines the openness of the internet
with the security of cryptography to provide a different way
to establish trust; allowing for peer-to-peer payment
services, supply chain tracking, and more. No wonder then,
that a list of the fastest growing jobs in the US includes
the financial sector, smart cities, tele-medicine and the
deployment of Internet/Enterprise
. BYOD and IT consolidation trends are also
going to require more IT changes.
As a disclaimer, I agree that the lines between IT and other
sectors like advanced manufacturing are blurring. What I’m
separating here is the development of software, services and
specifications for custom solutions such as cybersecurity
(IT) versus the use of Internet of Things within a factory
that produces tangible things. The trends of increased
entrepreneurship and global marketplace will increase
competition for tangible things. Smart cities will expand
markets for tangible things.
Mega-trends like Blockchain though, separates IT-based PM
from non-IT based PM. Adding up (1) the long list of
disruptors for IT, (2) Agile and DevOps methodologies, and
(3) the intrinsic barriers between industry verticals
(including tools and project sizes as we’ll discuss in the
next essay), I believe project management has two major
trajectories with a fair amount of space in between. This
divided trajectory may or may not have implications for
PMI-NJ’s programing and recruiting. I can tell you that it’s
requiring that PMPs like myself, do a more accurate job of
explaining the talent set – and that’s not nothing.
In the next article in this series, let’s consider Tools and Project Size as an
important set of demarcations for the career trajectories of
NJ PMs. We’ll reconnect anon! To chat sooner, email me at