For technology skills, cloud is the common denominator

The technology of the enterprise is a kaleidoscope. It is the ever-changing content of technologies, old and new, that need to be created or maintained. It is well documented that there are still many companies working on COBOL mainframes, presenting their share of headaches with staff. There are even companies that still run on systems like FoxPro, or even RPG-based applications. Now cloud-based and artificial intelligence-based algorithms are being incorporated into the mix. With it comes a kaleidoscope of IT skills needed to keep things running. Each company requires a different combination. Sustainable companies need help with infrastructure migration, while companies with digital resources are working full-time with artificial intelligence.

Photo: Joe McEndrick

Scott Barnson, director of training products for Amazon Web Services, naturally sees a need for cloud skills, but notes that while the cloud is a key part of the mix, no two companies are alike. He recently shared his views on the directions of IT managers and professionals in the 2020s:

Q: What skills should modern IT professionals work on?

Barnson: The skills that are needed are often more closely related to the type of company or place you work in, rather than just the role you are in. For example, many technology startups are native to the cloud, so may be looking for builders who understand data science and machine learning. Large enterprises working in the cloud are not only looking for these skills, but probably also need individuals with experience in integration and migration who can help install new systems and work with system integrators to help them scale their business.

Q: How have IT skills requirements changed with the growth of cloud computing and digital transformation?

Barnson: As the world becomes more digital, we see that new career opportunities are emerging and existing ones are evolving. For example, with more choices for managed databases in the cloud, the role of database administrator has become more dynamic. As these roles become more software-based and less about providing and managing local hardware, today’s database administrators manage multiple cloud solutions and can take advantage of opportunities to develop strategic business solutions with a team of developers.

Another example is the need for individuals who understand and can help implement best practices regarding account and identification management, enabling customers to accelerate innovation in the cloud while maintaining management, security, and compliance requirements.

Q: Are there specific job roles or skills that will be replaced by automation, artificial intelligence, or low code / no code?

Barnson: The technology industry is evolving and creating more opportunities than ever before. The World Economic Forum estimates that 97 million new roles will appear by 2025 due to increased digitization. For example, manually checking the content of images – such as advertisements – for brand infringements – this was previously very manual, but has now been automated by machine vision. Thus, as we review image content, new roles emerge to support this technological evolution, such as machine learning experts and software developers who created and delivered a new tool.

Q: Are there roles or skills that will become more prominent when lower-level tasks are replaced?

Barnson: We hear a strong need for training from our clients in three areas: migration, as CIOs want to make sure their team is ready to move workloads to the cloud; cloud fluency, as CIOs want all features to have a basic understanding of the cloud, taxonomy and key benefits to help create a common taxonomy and eliminate unnecessary friction; and AI / ML as we move from the experimental phase to production use cases. CIOs seek to equip their teams, from decision-makers, to practitioners, with basic skills to identify usage options that have a positive impact on customers and business.

We regularly hear from our corporate clients a desire to increase the free use of the cloud in their organizations – from individuals who play technical and non-technical roles. This desire we hear from individuals. Our own research shows that the need for digital skills training has increased due to the pandemic: 85% of workers report that they now need more technical knowledge to do their job. The study also found that using cloud tools is the most sought-after skill that employers will need by 2025.

Q: Please give advice to IT professionals looking to climb the management ladder.

Barnson: I would like to share some tips. First, it’s an important opportunity to connect technology to advance business priorities, so look for courses that will help you build that bridge. For example, one of the most popular courses we released last year was “Fundamentals of Machine Learning for Business and Technical Decision Makers”. These courses are designed to provide the knowledge needed to shape machine learning strategies. I think one of the reasons for this popularity is that it is focused on helping individuals connect the technical content with the business challenges they face.

Second, moving up the management ladder is not only an extension of your organizational chart, but also an increase in the scope and scale of the impact on customers. This requires leaders who focus on gaining value for customers faster, and remember to measure the impact their teams have on customer and business success.

Q: Please give advice to IT professionals who are thinking about entrepreneurship or are already entrepreneurs.

Barnson: I have three simple tips for those who want to build their business: first, make sure of the customer problem you’re solving, and conduct experiments to make sure you’re on the right track. Second, you will need to make thousands of decisions and only have enough time to make them. Take advantage of opportunities to reduce complexity. Third, don’t try to do it alone. As an entrepreneur, you can test the limits of courage and perseverance, so ask – or hire – help along the way.

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