As the world undergoes an IT digital transformation, the role of IT departments is transforming, too. Take, for example, the British bank Lloyds, which cut 1,000 employees, including 250 members of its IT department. The bank stated that 150 new IT employees will be hired at a later date, presumably because it wants to hire IT professionals with different, more advanced skills.
While Lloyds claims the shift represents an increase in customers using online banking, the IT digital transformation isn’t just affecting financial companies. As business changes across industries, companies will begin looking for employees who possess new or enhanced tech skills. To stay relevant, IT professionals need to acquire new skills—and the following areas are three of the most popular skill sets in demand today:
1. Keep your cybersecurity skills on the cutting edge
Cybersecurity skills are becoming critical to all businesses, with data breaches and social engineering scams making the news on a daily basis. Seventy percent of information security professionals say a lack of cybersecurity acumen has affected their organization, according to a survey by the Information Systems Security Association and the analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group.
The negative impacts of this skill gap include an increasing workload for cybersecurity staff, the need to recruit junior employees in lieu of more experienced cybersecurity professionals, and the need to focus on high-priority security events rather than security planning, strategy, or training.
With cybercrime getting worse every day, the demand for IT pros with security skills isn’t going away anytime soon. In addition to making systems hacker-proof and mitigating attacks before they can do damage, cybersecurity skills should include knowing how to tighten every endpoint on the IT network, including often-overlooked devices, like printers. Knowing how to select and configure endpoints to enhance security is a vital skill.
2. Gain a deep knowledge of IoT
As previously mundane objects turn into networked devices that communicate with each other and the cloud, companies need an IT department that understands the Internet of Things (IoT). Nearly 31 billion IoT devices are predicted to be in use by 2020, according to Statista, and its inevitable some of those devices will be come to the office—if they’re not already there.
From smart watches to smart cars, IoT has the potential to transform the world across industries, from transportation and healthcare to retail and agriculture, according to the Information Technology Industry Council. Not only that, the technology is predicted to change the nature of how society works by creating connected cities or homes.
In this environment, learning IoT skills could ensure you have a job for years to come. IoT devices will place new demands on company networks, as well as its security policies and systems, and businesses will be searching for employees who can meet those demands.
3. Watch all the AI trends
Many aspects of daily life will soon depend on artificial intelligence systems, including patient diagnosis, judiciary decisions, and transportation. In fact, 95 percent of IT decision-makers at organizations in late stages of digital transformation say they plan to have a dedicated team of AI professionals. However, 49 percent reported their organization is unable to deploy the AI technologies they want, because their data is not ready to support the requirements of AI technologies. People who can help companies get those AI deployments up and running are going to become very valuable.
“Machine capabilities are growing,” Dr. Stephen Cave, executive director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI), said in an interview with the University of Cambridge. “Machines will perform the tasks that we don’t want to: the mundane jobs, the dangerous jobs. And they’ll do the tasks we aren’t capable of—those involving too much data for a human to process, or where the machine is simply faster, better, cheaper.” As AI takes over traditional jobs, people prepared for the new jobs it will create won’t have anything to fear.
Diversification: The most important skill of all
Staying relevant in today’s world means constantly acquiring new skills. Employers once wanted IT departments staffed with individuals who had specialized skill sets. Today, however, downsized departments require people with more diversified skills.
One in four IT workers are worried their skills could become obsolete, including “anyone who fears automation (read: everyone) and anyone working in programming languages, like Visual Basic, Flash, or even Ruby,” according to Fast Company.
Keep up with the digital transformation by continuing to participate in training. While no one can know everything, the IT pro who continues to update and expand what they can offer will stay relevant to their employer and the marketplace for a long time.