Does your job keep you up at night? And by that I mean: Do you worry whether you’ll still have a job five years from now?
It’s always a good idea to keep your skills up to date and avoid complacency — but that’s never been more relevant in IT than it is today. You might not be dealing with the Internet of Things at this very moment, but who knows what the tech landscape will look like five years from now?
Indeed, 59 per cent of IT professionals are concerned their current skill set will become obsolete, according to a report by Tech Pro Research, which surveyed 1,156 global respondents. (This differs by industry; in education, a whopping 71 per cent are concerned about obsolescence.)
“Mobile and cloud computing, the rise of big data and the importance of business continuity/disaster recovery have made today’s tech landscape a very different place from the almost quaint era of desktop client/server management and exclusively in-house systems,” says the report.
You’ve likely read several articles over the past year about the decline of the CIO: Many IT jobs can be outsourced or automated. Physical systems are being virtualized. Data centres are moving to the cloud.
But the results of the survey refute media reports of the imminent death of IT: “In fact, it’s quite the contrary with the increased complexity breeding new opportunities and furthering demand for skilled IT professionals,” says the report.
Of course, if you’re a network admin, you still need to be a good network admin, understanding how to administer and secure networks as infrastructure evolves. But there are all sorts of new roles being created, from cloud designers to data scientists.
And while there’s an increasing need for specialization, there’s also a need to be a generalist — to understand the big picture and to help the business innovate through technology.
That doesn’t mean you have to be a jack of all trades (and master of none). But you can expand your knowledge into new or complementary areas: If you’re a network admin, start looking at software-defined technologies and cloud-network abstraction. Understanding these new technologies can help you come up with new business strategies — and make you more relevant.
But it’s also important to understand your industry, the needs of the business, and how business processes work. It may take you out of your comfort zone, but learning to communicate effectively with business leaders is a key skill that will maintain your relevancy (because you’ll be able to communicate it), while helping solve business challenges through the use of technology.
Speaking the language of business (and translating IT speak into business speak) is an invaluable skill, and will become even more so in the years to come.
Few grown adults who have a job and a mortgage and a family have the time, money or inclination to go back to school full-time. But many post-secondary institutions offer continuing education options to suit our busy lifestyles, such as courses that combine online and in-class learning. These range from IT-specific courses to those that help develop business skills such as effective communication.
This evolving landscape doesn’t have to be a threat to your job security. Rather, it’s an opportunity to make yourself indispensable.
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