Do you have your head in the clouds? These days, most of us do. Cloud computing has seen a boom in the last couple of years, not only making LinkedIn’s annual Global Hottest Skills for the first time ever in 2015, but topping the charts as the single “hottest skill” worldwide. “Cloud and Distributed Computing” surpassed “Statistical Analysis and Data Mining,” 2014’s global leader seemingly from out of nowhere, meaning that IT pros who are serious about staying on top of the game need to add these cloud skills to their repertoire.
Analytics and Data Skills
Cloud Computing may have surpassed Big Data and Analytics in LinkedIn’s global report, but the two are now closely connected. The most well-rounded IT pros will have traditional database administrator training under their belts because most databases nowadays are hosted in cloud environments. Database querying languages are essential for those looking to develop skills around a database platform, and SQL is the standard language to learn.
Of course, not everybody needs to learn the minutiae and intricacies that separate a “data expert” from “somebody who knows a thing or two about analytics,” but a strong knowledge base doesn’t hurt. Most vendors will provide hands-on training for data and analytics solutions, and a familiarity with key languages and procedures can help to fast track mastery of those tools.
Dev Ops and Programming Language
One of the benefits of cloud is that it allows IT departments to function in an agile, adaptive manner. As such, DevOps is taking a front seat to enterprise IT’s 2016 trajectory, meaning that cloud ecosystems will blossom to their fullest potential. That’s why it’s vital for the IT pros who are implementing such solutions to have the know-how to correctly tie everything together.
Knowledge of multiple coding languages is the perfect complement to DevOps training in any situation, and cloud development and programming is no different. Cloud application development systems have used multiple languages ranging from Python, Perl, and Ruby to .NET, Java, and PHP, so developers and IT who know and can switch between multiple programming languages are going to be the most sought after in the market.
Security and Compliance
With the number of high profile cyberattacks making news headlines, it’s no wonder that security tops the list of cloud computing concerns in multiple reports. This is a trend unlikely to blow over, especially when criminals stand to make a cyber-killing. Scary stat: The average cybercrime costs U.S. businesses $15.4 million.
IT professionals that demonstrate knowledge of cloud security skills, usually via credentials such as the International Information Systems Security CISSP or (ISC)2’s CCSP certifications, will be offered better opportunities than those who do not. Certifications such as these provide knowledge on network intrusion detection and prevention, best practice security measures and management, and other high-level concepts that will make for a great addition to any IT team.
Additionally, anybody looking to stay up on IT and cloud computing will want to brush up on compliance protocols that affect industries relevant and related to them. For instance, those aiming to work in health-related IT should be up to speed on the HITECH Act.
Infrastructure, Cloud Deployment and Migration
Interestingly enough, a lot of businesses still have not yet pulled the trigger on cloud adoption. They are teetering on the edge, however, and more organizations take the plunge every year. It’s no wonder that professionals with knowledge of cloud deployment models or experience with migration projects are in demand.
Even for those who don’t foresee migration in their cloud-centric future, knowledge of IT infrastructures, governance models, and systems framework gives you an advantage. Knowing how a system works means that you can better troubleshoot any issues that arise, as well as understand how new systems and software might integrate with it in the future.
Mobile Device Management Knowledge
Since BYOD blew up in the early 2010s, organizations have had to constantly balance supporting business use of personal devices with securing the business against those device’s vulnerabilities. Data leaks and IP theft can be a company’s worst nightmare. Fortunately, mobile device management (MDM) suites provide the tools and knowledge to achieve that balance.
Those with MDM skills not only possess knowledge of specific applications pertaining to data transfer and device administration, but they possess people skills and the ability to imagine the viewpoints of others. This is because acceptable use policies and company regulations must simultaneously protect the business and leave users relatively unhindered and able to achieve and maintain acceptable workflow.
An Open Mind and the Ability to Learn
Of course, the most useful ability any IT professional can hone is the ability to learn. Agility and willingness to embrace and adopt new ideas will continue to define IT as disruptive new technologies and software continue to change the face of industries almost daily. The only thing stopping an IT professional from keeping up and staying in the know is an unwillingness to change. Knowledge and open-mindedness is power; never regard it as anything but.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”