5 tech skills you need to be future-ready
Technology has become intertwined with nearly every aspect of our lives. Even activities that didn’t seem to require a digital component have benefitted from its application. Restaurants are taking customer orders on a touchscreen tablet, algorithms are determining the value of homes, and social media suggests people you may know and want to reconnect with.
The pandemic has increased the adoption of and the need for more digital products, services, experiences, and conveniences.
Software of the future will play an even more prominent role in our lives, taking on everyday tasks (driving a car), improving our talents (identifying the next career skill to learn), and enhancing the quality of our lives (tailoring diets or exercise regimens).
As the world accelerates in this direction, employment in tech-related occupations will continue to grow in parallel, making tech expertise increasingly sought after by companies around the world.
These are five in-demand skill sets in particular that will make your career future-ready.
1. Programming and software development
Although we spent much of the last year indoors, how much of that time was in front of some type of screen? As consumers of technology for business or pleasure, it should go without saying that the programmers who develop and write software that powers our favourite programmes and applications are incredibly important.
2. Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Whether you Netflix a show or movie, connect to a colleague on LinkedIn, buy a product on Amazon, or Google something, you have been served by an AI model. Advances in computing speed and cloud infrastructure have allowed companies to deploy algorithms and machine learning models, some of which can even run on your mobile phone.
In 2018, Domo reported that “over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every single day, and it’s only going to grow from there.”
With data being created at an astronomical rate, computation speed continuing to improve and decisions increasingly automated, more companies will lean into AI and machine learning to filter and process information, as well as advance their offerings to help their customers make better, faster or fewer decisions.
While improvements in AI and machine learning are racing, there is still a long way to go. Subfields such as deep learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) still very much require a close eye by humans to ensure that computers can accurately make decisions. These roles are being filled by those with strong data science, math, and statistics backgrounds.
3. Data analytics and visualisation
What AI and machine learning cannot do, humans will have to do. This means being intimately familiar with SQL and exploratory data analysis tools, and using them to tap into data, manipulate it, analyse it, and present findings.
Human intuition and understanding of business problems is key to mining patterns, generating insights, and identifying opportunities for strategic business decisions.
Importantly, this skill-set requires the ability to transform data to reporting, forecasting, and statistical analyses that can be understood by those who do not possess this skill set. At the core, this is storytelling with data.
4. Cloud computing
In less than 10 years since cloud computing became publicly available, the benefits of it have been extensive and far-reaching. Whether it is storage, processing power, or containerised applications spun up on demand, the cloud has revolutionised the software industry.
The ability to rent services such as these have allowed startups to flourish and build and release products at a never-done-before pace.
This will continue to become even more commoditised as major cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud offer more out-of-the-box services that companies can utilise to build their offering faster.
Certified cloud experts with the ability to build cloud-native applications will be particularly sought after. Machine learning services on the cloud will also be a desired skill. With such a new technology, the demand far exceeds the current talent pool.
Tech and IT companies will continue to invest in shipping faster and driving efficiency for better engineering productivity. This is where development operations (DevOps) comes in. It plays a vital role in accelerating time to market for a company’s products and services.
Familiarity with products and concepts like continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipelines, Docker, Kubernetes (K8s), monitoring systems, and infrastructure as code are key to being successful in this field.
While you choose your tech career and work to hone these skills, do not forget that all software and products are meant for an end user. The ability to work backward from the customer and use that information to influence what you build is an important skill that will be increasingly valued.
Similarly, soft skills like the ability to articulate your ideas well, influence others, earn trust and drive meaningful change within your team will continue to be important in any business of the future.
The skill set you can offer to an organisation is only one half of the career equation — the other is what the organisation can offer to you.
As you research companies and open roles (or field recruiter inquiries), it’s important to look for a fast-paced workplace where you will have the opportunity to contribute immediately and quickly see the impact of your work.
And, most importantly, find an environment and culture that challenges and stretches you, empowers you to do your best work, and invests in your learning so you are able to sharpen and expand your skills throughout your career.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)