|With the economy being what it is today, many small companies may not have the luxury of being able to separate these roles into different positions. If you can, though, it’s better to split these responsibilities. The average IT/Deployment specialist usually gets caught-up in their day-to-day activities and doesn’t always see the “big picture”.|
What you’re really asking for is an in-house consultant to stay abreast of emerging technologies and to evaluate them for potential use within your company. This person should also have a strong technical background as they will most likely need to take a somewhat “hands-on” approach to properly evaluate new technologies. Of course, they will work closely with the IT department too. For example, if a new technology is being considered, often times a pilot test will be conducted with a small group of end-users.
Many companies find that the best person for the job was right under their noses all the time. The most senior/experienced IT specialist should be evaluated for the position first. If they’re up to it, that is to say, if they can handle the new responsibilities, it’s probably the best fit. After all, your most senior IT specialist has probably been with the company long enough to “know” the company and its business requirements, and it’s probably less expensive to offer a promotion with a generous pay increase than to offer enough to attract someone from outside the company. If you can fill the position from within, it will be much easier to find a replacement IT specialist than to find someone for the new position. If this isn’t an option, then you may just have to hire “off the street”.
Again, I think the title is less important than ensuring that the person selected is up to the task, but if you want some ideas…
Manager, Emerging Technologies
You can probably sit all day and come up with titles, but you get the idea. It’s important to understand just what the position is and then it’ll be easier to select the title.
One last thing… No matter who gets the job, in my opinion, they’ll be most effective if they are not a direct report to the IT manager, at least not exclusively. Maybe report to the IT manager with a dotted-line to a more senior manager. If not, new ideas and recommendations tend to get “filtered” through the IT manager so upper management may have a difficult time evaluating the effectiveness of this new position. Besides, they’re the ones that will be making any major IT decisions and they’ll have more information this way, especially when opinions differ.