Five skills organizations need in this era of talent crunch and business digitalization

The role of technology within the organisation is becoming more critical and changing with businesses relying on the tech pro to help make the most of its IT systems, digital services, and data assets.

In Asia Pacific, the shortage of tech talent is probably the most acute globally. Across the region, as technology transformation programmes get underway, 70% of businesses currently experience a “very-high level” of difficulty in finding the right tech talent. In Singapore, the tech function is the most in demand and the talent pool is already under strain with a further 60,000 tech hires required by 2024.

To cope with this talent shortage, skill-building and enhancement are viable options for tech pros to address skill gaps and develop their careers.

While the past two years may have turned everything upside down for the IT department, one positive that has come out of it is the lessons tech pros learned along the way. As we look to the year ahead, there’s a big opportunity for tech pros to take both the hard and soft skills they’ve acquired and put them to good use

I believe all skills can be learned and non-technical or “soft” skills are just as integral as technical skills. In fact, new research from the SolarWinds® IT Pro Day 2021 Survey: Bring IT On found we’re starting to see tech pros agree a balance between non-technical skills and more traditional technical certifications and experience will play a large role in enabling career advancement.

Chrystal Taylor, Head Geek, SolarWinds

While these non-technical skills are vast, I believe five modest yet crucial skills will help pave the way for a successful IT career in the long haul and serve tech pros in various team contexts.

Build Resilience

The word “resilience” has been overused a lot in the past year or so, but it’s important, nonetheless. With a recession, rising cyber threats, and a changing job market, business, and individual resilience will be necessary. Our ability to withstand and recover from issues will continue to be tested and valued.

Building a resilient IT department has the potential to drive digital transformation and uplevel security throughout any organization. By choosing resilience, embracing change, believing in oneself, and harnessing strong problem-solving skills, tech professionals are bound for greatness. The hard part is being aware of or acknowledging the moment when you or your team have shown resilience and being proud of it afterward.

Pivot Without Regret

Another skill for IT professionals to harness is “pivoting without regret.” This means being able to change priorities, shift goals, and move to different projects with little or no notice and do it all efficiently. It also means being flexible with turnaround times, app updates, and various tech projects. When done effectively, it can ensure smooth multitasking and transparency.

Business priorities must adapt to market changes, customer demand, security vulnerabilities, and more. The IT department needs to be ready and able to shift to support these changing priorities as well. This may mean abandoning something you’ve spent considerable time on to move on to a new project. The key is to understand it’s not personal and look forward to a new challenge. Try to gain new perspective on that former project as you may never get to work on it again.

Develop a Sense of Code

This isn’t about understanding what every line of code does. I’m not telling every tech pro they should become a DevOps engineer or full-stack developer. I’m advising tech pros to make sure they understand the importance of code and understand it to a level that they can look at a block of code and have a general idea of the code’s purpose.

This skill isn’t necessarily about becoming the top programming expert in the industry, but instead becoming familiar with the bigger picture of code and its ultimate use. This sense of code will not only serve to reduce friction and increase collaboration between teams but also help IT pros speak to how business and department goals are being addressed in a broad sense.

Adapt to the Cloud

As ever, change is constant in IT. Constant change requires adaptation and resilience. The move to include cloud in enterprise infrastructure requires tech pros to adapt and translate their on-premises knowledge and skills to the cloud.

This means taking time to understand and learn the differences between on-premises and the cloud. Spend time making a checklist of questions to ask like, is routing materially different? How is storage handled? How is data transfer handled? What communication is required? How is security handled?

It may seem old-fashioned, but sometimes study groups or working in pairs can help with this. Get your team together or work with a partner and work through the motions, so you can adapt to the cloud.

Switch Perspectives

The final and perhaps most important skill is to harness the power of perspective, or the ability to see things from the end user’s (whether customers or colleagues) perspective. For IT professionals, switching perspective allows for a more robust means of monitoring, tracing, and resolving internal issues more efficiently and effectively. It will also add a sense of empathy to all interactions with the end user, improving communication and collaboration.

These skills are difficult to measure. Managers have to take your word for it more than anything; however, leveraging teamwork and holding each other accountable might be the first step toward climbing the hill. Take note of customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores and reviews, if applicable, and encourage team members to recognize each other’s strides forward.

Learning will inevitably become the biggest skill for tech pros and will be critical to ensure career enhancement. For the remaining months of 2022 and heading into 2023, it’s imperative IT professionals start to recognize, practice, and perfect these five skills, so they can start to reap the benefits of the opportunity sitting right in front of them.