Steve Gickling is the CTO of Calendar, the go-to place for unified calendars and all your scheduling needs.
IT may be known as an in-demand and relatively stable field to break into. There are few businesses today that don’t depend on some form of technology. But the tech landscape is also known for its rapid developments and setbacks.
The growth of dot-com companies in the late 1990s and the eventual bursting of that bubble in 2000 is a good example. Those looking to enter or stay on top of the tech industry often wonder what skills employers want. Staying up to date with business trends and having a willingness to learn something new can help aspiring IT professionals stay ahead of the curve.
However, it’s often more crucial to match interests with the tech skills businesses need and build on those passions from there. That’s not only the case because technology rarely remains stagnant; it’s also because some core skills and programming languages become building blocks for the next big thing. Based on the directions companies are taking now with tech, here are four skills that can benefit businesses today.
1. Programming And Coding
Technology runs on code. Without it, the applications, websites and mobile apps that people rely on wouldn’t exist. Now, the programming language skills businesses need may differ depending on what platforms make up internal tech stacks. Many organizations also partner with several different vendors for cloud-based services, which may complicate things a bit.
Grasping the ins and outs of the specific programming languages businesses use can be key. Building a portfolio of varied coding and programming language experience or certifications may get a young techie’s foot in the door. Yet it’s the knowledge of how to apply coding practices that’s the critical skill companies need.
2. Project Management
Developers might excel at coding and different programming languages, but they usually dive head first into the details of a project. Businesses need someone to oversee an app’s development from start to finish and coordinate all the work of individual programmers. This is where project managers and a knowledge of agile development methodologies come in.
For instance, Scrum is one of the more popular approaches. Companies need Scrum masters who have learned how to divide projects into sprints, enabling developers to create high-value features quickly. More and more companies are developing their own apps, as e-commerce and customer service shift toward mobile and self-service platforms. That’s creating demand for project leaders who can take an app from the ideation stage to full launch.
3. Data Analytics And Data Science
With an emphasis on making data-driven decisions, companies are dealing with more information than ever. That data is often coming in from multiple sources, creating a need to sync it all. There’s also a need to make all that information digestible for people in nontechnical roles.
This means that someone has to build databases, make sure they function correctly and funnel the right information to leaders’ desks. A company could have full-fledged data teams or specialists dispersed throughout the organization. Regardless of the chosen approach, data science and analytics organize and break down the information businesses take in.
The ability to create relational databases and interpret what various datasets mean is what big data is all about. A business can collect all the information it wants. But without knowing how that data fits into the big picture and whether it should influence decisions, it’s not very useful.
4. User Experience
When programmed in an app or a website, ideas come to life. Yet the way a developer thinks an app or site should function may be completely different from the end user’s perceptions. If you’ve ever bought a piece of DIY furniture, you may have experienced this kind of disconnect. The engineer thought their design would be easy to put together. Your confusion and frustration said otherwise.
App and site development teams need people who specialize in the user experience to make sure disconnects like that don’t happen. Testing applications and platforms from a user’s point of view takes a combination of people and tech skills. Knowing how to translate between a layperson’s and a developer’s experience helps ensure apps don’t fall flat in the marketplace. The ability to serve as a go-between also aids businesses in delivering improved customer experiences.
Developing Tech Skills
Most business leaders know that technology’s operational roles aren’t going away anytime soon. If anything, those roles are expanding into new uses of automation, AI and virtual reality. Newer specialties related to big data and the user experience are cropping up as distinct competitive advantages become more essential. Tech skills that relate to and strengthen those competitive advantages can benefit businesses and the IT practitioners who want to contribute.