The more you know about business processes as an IT professional, the more valuable you are and the more likely you are to find a job.

That's the word from Gartner, Inc., the IT research firm, which applies the term "versatilist" to describe a new breed of IT professional who possesses a broad understanding of business processes. Not surprisingly, Gartner has found that these IT professionals are the most highly prized and sought after by chief information officers when they are seeking to add staff.

CIOs have told me they were unable to get people with the combination of business and IT-related thinking they needed," says Diane Morello, managing vice president of executive leadership and innovation at Gartner. Instead of narrow and deep skills in technology, the IT practitioners who are valued highly in the coming years will have expertise in such areas as project management, financial analysis, and application design. "Being a versatilist is as much about the initiative an individual has as it is about the assignments he or she has had."

To become a versatilist, Morello suggests IT professionals seek out projects to work on that are outside their domain of comfort or expertise. It workers should get closer to key business initiatives and work face to face with people they've never met before.

-- Doug Bartholomew