Information Technology Generalist

An Information Technology Generalist is a professional proficient in many facets of information technology without any specific specialty. Additionally, an IT generalist is considered to possess general business knowledge and soft skills allowing him to be adaptable in a wide array of work environments. [1] The IT Generalist is often able to fulfill many different roles within a company. In a small business environment, budgets often delegate many different facets of technology to a single individual, especially considering a small business will require an individual proficient in desktop support, web page design , databases, phone systems, And even server administration. The role of the IT Generalist in the development of the IT system. [2]

Industry Role

The information technology industry consisted of several disparate technologies which each serve a critical piece of the total technology puzzle. As technology practices change, technology and tools become available. The human expertise required in order to manage these new systems has given rise to what is defined as an IT specialist-someone with an expert level of competence and knowledge on a particular piece of technology. In comparison, the IT Generalist does not possess the expert knowledge to implement an advanced system but instead possesses the knowledge and experience to ensure all of the disparate technologies can function properly together. [3]

The generalist has become an increasingly valuable asset to a company, especially when it comes to the rapidly changing field of technology. In many cases, companies are more apt to demand hiring and retaining employees who are multi-functional, especially those who have analytical abilities such as critical reasoning and statistical analysis. [4]

Market Trends

Market trends tends to be moving away from the hiring of IT specialists and instead individuals who possess a more broad technical base with additional soft-skills such as enthusiasm, passion, and energy. In even some cases, IT specialists with years of experience may be passed on for more malleable hires because as technology innovations may be stifled by specialists not be able to adjust to new procedures and processes in the market. [5]Interestingly enough the associated attributes with an IT generalist have been defined in other occupational series as well. In a study conducted over five years with over 250 political science specialists, their political predictions were recorded along with a large sample of generalist ‘ S political predictions to determine if they were effective in their forecasts. The study discovered that those with limited political science were more accurate in their predictions-most likely as a result of their more varied and un-focused exposure to political science as compared to those of the specialists. [6]

Arguments For and Against

The debate between the IT Generalist and Specialist has been going on for years to determine how best to use IT department skills and assets. Up up to recently the general consensus of the market has-been the hiring of IT specialists due to the implementation of advanced technologies Such As cloud computing, next-generation mobile application development, and the virtualization of technology infrastructure. It has been found, however, that the hiring of specialists has led to the rise of silos of talent within a company leading to difficulty implementing new business processes and taking advantage of inter-departmental collaboration.

According to multiple studies [8] in 2010 companies who were surveyed rated their goal to be reduced to the amount of specialists they hire and instead hiring “versatilists.” These versatilists are synonymous with IT Generalists because they have an overall general sense of technology As business knowledge while also possessing “soft skills” that are considered lacking in technology-minded individuals focused on specific technology skill-sets. [9]

Further reading

  • Tetlock, Philip (2005). Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know ?. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-12871-9
  • Stewart, Jim (2009). Technology Jobs: Secrets to Landing your Next Job in Information Technology. Equity Press. ISBN 978-1-933-80483-5
  • Rubenstein, Albert (2007). Managing Technology in the Decentralized Firm. Authors Choice Press. ISBN 978-0-595-14962-9


  1. Jump up^ “IT hiring strategies: Our CIO readers talk soft skills, skimpy budgets” . . Retrieved 23 May 2014 .
  2. Jump up^ Casserly, Meghan. “The Secret Power Of The Generalist – And How They’ll Rule The Future” . Forbes . Retrieved 23 May 2014 .
  3. Jump up^ Shields, Greg. “The” IT Generalist “is gaining ground!” . Vulcan Consulting . Retrieved 23 May 2014 .
  4. Jump up^ Mansharamani, Vikram. “All Hail the Generalist” . Harvard Business Review . Retrieved May 25, 2014 .
  5. Jump up^ Dubie, Denise. “Wanted for hire: generalists, not IT specialists” . NetworkWorld . Retrieved 23 May 2014 .
  6. Jump up^ Tetlock, Philip (2005). Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? . Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN  978-0-691-12871-9 .
  7. Jump up^ Millar, Erin. “The university debate: specialize or be a generalist?” . The Globe and Mail . Retrieved 23 May 2014 .
  8. Jump up^ Collett, Stacy. “Hot Skills, Cold Skills” . ComputerWorld . Retrieved 23 May 2014 .
  9. Jump up^ Elmore, Bill. “Are you an IT specialist or generalist?” . TechRepublic . Retrieved 23 May 2014 .

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