The digital skills of the future

120 million workers may need to be reskilled or retrained in the next 3 years
IBM Study: The skills gap is not a myth, but can be addressed with real solutions. (image source: IBM)
The digital skills of the future
The digital skills of the future. (image source:IBM)

We are all too aware about the challenges of adapting to continuously evolving technology. From business practices to solution development; organisations of all shapes and sizes need to keep abreast of the digital world. But, how is this impacting on the skills needed for this more connected environment?

The technology (or rather information) worker of the future is someone who has a markedly different skill set to those required just a few years ago. Thanks to the likes of virtualisation, machine-learning, mixed reality, and other innovations, people need to have more varied expertise to provide the companies they work for the competitive advantage needed to differentiate themselves.

Rise of automation
Technology workers need a mix of skills that have become fundamental in a more dynamic (and digitally aware) organisation. From maintenance (think IT architecture and application support), traditional business development (solving company challenges), and business analysis – modern technology workers will need to be proficient at all of them.

However, many areas of these roles can be replaced by automation or machine-learning (think artificial intelligence). In fact, coding today has become as much a ‘drag-and-drop’ experience as Website designs used to be in the late 90s.

This means that despite having this mix of skills, technology workers will have to be more creative in performing their jobs. They must come up with new initiatives to be more efficient and add value to the business bottom-line.

Specialisation importance
Part of this will entail offering a more ‘human’ approach to these job facets. For example, developers already optimise the code created by machines, business analysts provide functional requirements that can then be automatically populated into templates, and so on.

People will, therefore, need to learn different skills focused on engaging with the rest of the organisation. So, your coder must interact more socially than what he/she is used to while an analyst must be able to provide a link between the business and technology in ways that meet both sets of requirements.

Expanding skills
While some might be concerned that machines will be taking over, the reality could not be further from the truth. In fact, machine-learning will result in stronger soft skills where people will be able to do the things that make them who they are.

Just think about the importance of storytelling in this connected world. Data scientists, developers, analysts, all of them will be able to formulate their ideas into stories and use that mechanism to explain concepts that help deliver business value. And, on the hard skills side, there will always be the need for people to configure things and have a good understanding of ETL, how interoperability works, and integrate with back-end systems. Technical skills will become more diverse because of it.

These are exciting times for technology workers. As IT evolves, and businesses embrace digital transformation, enhancing skills to complement strategic requirements will become standard operating procedure.

By Kevin Kemp, Executive at PBT Group