What Skills Should You Be Investing In Right Now?
Will You make the cut?
Cisco is laying off another 8% of its workforce. That’s about 6000 people – it’s not the first time. And they’re not the only ones making cuts. Microsoft reported a cut of 18,000 jobs in July and HP has had its share as well. Is the technology market dying?
The problem is one of skill sets. In 2007, in my book The House & the Cloud I warned technology people not to get too comfortable with their networking and VoIP skills. People got angry at me when I told them security would continue with strong growth over the next 10 years, VoIP would not. Technology is not going away, however it is constantly changing. It’s easy to get caught in a rut if you’re not peeking out over the horizon to see what’s next. Technology products commoditize, while disciplines like security and operational efficiency improvements using technology do not.
Even sales people, if you focus too hard on the technology will be cut. Develop the skills that make high performance sales possible and you’ll find your company working overtime to reposition you with new technology.
So Who Will Make the Cut?
So, which tech skills are in demand? The Wall Street Journal interviewed several high-level managers to see what they’re looking for and reported in this morning’s CIO Journal. Here are few sound bites worth noting:
1. Bobby Patrick, vice president marketing at Hewlett Packard: “The cloud skills gap is the single biggest barrier to the future adoption of cloud infrastructures.” So do you really understand cloud technology to it’s fullest? The article goes on to state that, “cloud tech workers are the hardest to find because IT workers in cloud environments must balance being technology brokers, cloud integration specialists, service architects and user experience designers.” It’s not just the storage available in Dropbox, of the Applications from Salesforce.com.
2. Adriana Karaboutis, global CIO for Dell: Says, finding people with “Big Data and analytics skills is toughest because Big Data professionals have a good understanding of information virtualization, data mining, collaboration and business domain analysis – skills that can drive revenue, margin and market share.” Again, it’s not just technology, but the business application of technology.
3. Chris Belmont, vice president and CIO for M.D. Anderson Cancer in Houston:“Analytics and Big Data” – top of the list.
4. Tim Arthur, the CIO for Alltech: Looking for technology people that also possess strong character and human skills. I suspect he’s seen his share of technology people lacking communication skills and the ability to really work with the business side people.
5. Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III, president for University of Maryland Baltimore Campus: Looking for people who are “well-read, ask good questions and come with strong communication, teamwork and analytical skills.” Again, he sees technology people lacking the ability to relate to business and business people. People who can take technology and apply it to today’s business problems. People who read and continue to learn…
6. Adecco North America HR Team: Called soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, creativity, “The most significant skills gap in the U.S.” This is right. In my training classes and coaching programs I spend a lot of time helping people learn to present technical information to executives. This is why lunch & learn events fail to convert prospects to buyers, and it’s why the assessments rarely lead to remediation projects.
7. Eric J. Sigurdson, the CIO Practice Leader at Russell Reynolds: Looking for people with “Deep cyber security experience, combined with excellent interpersonal skills and executive presence.” Here it is – security. Cisco is ramping up security right now, so is HP. In fact, they’ll be hiring more people once they make the cut. In 2000 I saw the writing on the wall. I was knowledgeable on networks, but not security. The first thing I did was go out and study for my CISSP. A year later I was “The Security Guy.” I paid for it out of my own pocket!
Here’s the big surprise!
The number of open info tech jobs grew 19% over the past 12 months! So they’re cutting jobs – but 19% growth is amazing growth. The resources are out there – the problem is, most people are unwilling to fund their own continuing education. You can’t sit still and expect to be successful in the long run.
© 2014, David Stelzl
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