In a fast-changing world where digital technologies are disrupting consumer lives and industries across the board in a very fundamental way, you need to be in sync with the times. That means embracing change–and constant, rapid change at that–wholeheartedly, and being open to unlearning existing skills, and acquiring new ones.
Be it artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), cyber security, Big Data and analytics, or cloud computing, you must aggressively re-skill yourself around these areas to remain relevant in a volatile job market.
Here are some core IT skills you should build from scratch or augment further going forward:
- Micro-services: The conventional enterprise paradigm of building large monolithic IT applications is on its way out. Companies are now starting to embrace the micro-services software architecture to scale their systems and infrastructure in line with dynamic business requirements and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). For you to be able to capitalize on this emerging trend, you will need to build expertise in how to develop applications as suite of small services, each running in its own process and communicating with lightweight mechanisms(loosely coupled). They are organized around business functions and treated as products and not as projects with decentralized governance and data management along with focus on automation. Familiarity with Agile and DevOps methodologies will certainly come in handy on this front, enabling you to develop self-contained, flexible modules that address a specific business requirement independently.
- DevOps:As companies look to reduce the time to market for their products and services in an on-demand digital economy, DevOps-linked skills are in big demand. Specifically, you should focus on processes and methodologies such as Agile, Lean/Kanban, Continuous Integration, Test-Driven Development (TDD) and working in cross-functional teams that sharing responsibility for system. Goal of improve deployment frequency, faster time to market with Lower failure rate creating continuous software delivery process.
According to the 2015 State of DevOps Report, “high-performing IT organizations deploy 30x more frequently with 200x shorter lead times; they have 60x fewer failures and recover 168x faster.”
- Big Data and Analytics: Companies are struggling to make sense of the unprecedented volumes of data they generate. They need people who can extract actionable business insights from the goldmine of structured and unstructured data being collected. Therefore, you must build in-depth skills in programming (Scala, Python, R), Quantitative, understanding business outcomes , technologies like Hadoop, Hive, Cassandra, Apache Spark and data visualization using D3.Js, Tableau and Qlikview.
- Cybersecurity: A recent Intel poll of companies found almost 82% of the respondents citing a significant lack of talented professionals who have strong competence in cybersecurity processes and methodologies. As hacking increasingly inflicts serious business damage across industries, enterprises are seeking experts in intrusion detection, network security, secure software development, penetration testing and attack mitigation.
- Cloud: With companies increasingly migrating their IT infrastructure and data to the cloud, there is a big demand for skills associated with cloud services. For instance, you should build competency in cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google cloud, beside acquiring vendor and supplier Management skills. Also, software engineers and architects, system administrators and network engineers must be up to speed on Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS)
Soft skills matter too
The importance of soft skills determining the course of your career cannot be overstated. Unlike hard skills that are quantifiable and demonstrable; personal attribute-driven general skills like analytical thinking, verbal and written communication, ability to give and receive feedback; and manage time are intangible. And, the supply-demand equation on this front is massively imbalanced–a LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring managers in the U.S. found 59% of respondents citing a paucity of soft skills in candidates.
Here are five essential non-core soft skills you must acquire to complement your core technological expertise:
- Collaboration: IT today is driving both the front-end and back-end of the business, underpinning core functions like sales, marketing, operations and finance. Therefore, you need to be able to work smoothly alongside non-tech business users across the organization, spanning different business lines. For example, a better understanding of other teams’ workflows would help you tweak your working style to ensure everybody is on the same page. And, for those operating in a multinational setup, having a harmonious working relationship with colleagues across diverse cultures and geographies is vital.
- Critical thinking: Organizations are on the lookout for critical thinkers–individuals who use observation, reasoning, previous experience, available resources and research to bring in a fresh perspective. You should work on understanding issues in a fundamental manner, and then suggesting intuitive solutions and ideas that could help enhance internal processes or strengthen your company’s competitive advantage. In order to be able to do so, you should analyze the data, and interpret it.
- Problem solving: As technologies continue to evolve, and customer behaviour and expectations change rapidly, companies are seeking professionals who take the initiative and proactively come up with ideas on how to solve a problem. This means you should think on your feet, and figure out different viable ways of addressing a given challenge, rather than running to your boss with the problem itself.
- Design thinking: You also need to develop the ability to use innovative design for improving customer experience. As a case in point, if you are developing a mobile travel app, then put yourself if the end user’s shoes and build various scenarios around how they would possibly use the app. Accordingly, you should use these user “personas” to configure appropriate solutions, and deliver a differentiated, superior customer experience.
- Agility and adaptability: Employers need people who can adapt themselves quickly to their dynamic industry environment, and keep themselves relevant for sustained business profitability. Hence, you must constantly be open and flexible to acquiring new skills, with regard to innovative technologies. Also, you should proactively ask for customized training sessions, and offer to coach your colleagues about what you have learnt. Apart from being adaptable, you need to be agile in today’s fast-changing world, considering many technologies are becoming rather obsolete very quickly.
“Survival of the fittest”–this core principle of the Darwinian evolutionary theory has been, and will remain, pertinent for many facets of the human civilization. The jobs market and the requisite skill sets are no exception to this rule. You must look at the ongoing disruption all around as an opportunity to re-skill yourself to be able to stand out in the crowd, and ensure a thriving, rewarding career ahead.
By: Vinay Pradhan, Country Manager, Skillsoft