Survival of the digitally skilled

By: Andreas Bartsch, Head of Service Delivery
PBT Group

Often, when we talk about digital transformation, we instantly think about ‘cool’ gadgets, driverless cars, robots of the future or other exciting digital technologies that have solved much of the world’s traditional problems. With that said, is there still a place for people in this ‘digital picture’, beyond the consumption of digital technologies?

 Within my years of experience in the technology space, I have not only seen the need to adapt as technology evolves, but, have realised and identified how technology sometimes evolves faster than people.

 There is no denying that digitisation has revolutionised the way we live our day-to-day lives. From the way we communicate with each other and ‘things’, to household appliances and operational tools at work – digitisation has disrupted life as we know it.

This is especially true within the working environment where the debate around job security (due to technological advances) is starting to gain more traction. Certainly, if we consider automotive technologies, for example, where technology can deliver tasks in record time compared to what people can – then you start to understand the anxiety being felt by people.

However, if we understand that the market requires new skills to match the erupting digital culture for these technologies to reach their full potential – we then understand how to upskill and become more future ready.

Though technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) have become common place, people (or rather Human Intelligence (HI)) still plays a key role. Afterall, someone has to build, operate, regulate, and maintain these machines, right?

The challenge, however, as noted by global research and advisory company Gartner,  is that digitalisation is creating fierce competition for hires with digital skills – which is now felt across all sectors, not just those on the leading technological edge. Gartner also warns that a shortage of skills could negatively impact digital transformation efforts – as only 20% of employees have the skills needed for both their current and future role.

The technology worker of the future is someone who has a markedly different skill set to those required just a few years ago. Thanks to the likes of virtualisation, machine-learning, mixed reality, and other innovations, people now need to have more varied expertise to provide companies that they work for the competitive advantage needed to differentiate themselves.

So, what are these on-demand skills?

  • Information Technology (IT) – though very broad and with many sub-categories compared to recent years, overall IT skills are among the highest on-demand – given that most companies are adopting to digital platforms. Think application developers, web developers, software engineers, etc.
  • Data Sciences – this specialised area has become crucial for most organisations, given the large amounts of data that is being derived from customers and suppliers. This data has become the new ‘pot of gold’ for companies because in it lies the insights required for businesses to not only make more informed and intelligent decisions, but to stay ahead of competition in tough economic environments.

It is almost impossible to mention all the new possibilities that digital transformation is bringing into the market across all sectors.

For the younger generation looking to pursue careers in the IT environment, specialising in data is almost a guaranteed successful career venture – as data is needed, and used, by nearly every industry.

Those who understand how to collect, manage and extract insights from available data, are those that will likely navigate this digital environment successfully…

The good news is that, and rather contradictory, as technology advances, the spectrum broadens, from highly technical roles to simply utilising the latest tools and technologies.

With an appropriate background in, for example statistics, engineering etc., the naturally technology savvy, younger generation has a huge opportunity to participate in many aspects of data science.

As uncomfortable as change can be, adaption is the key to remaining relevant. The place for people in the era of digital transformation is not just as observers and consumers, it’s in the tide of change! So embrace it, as the possibilities are endless.

All articles written by this author are solely their opinion and do not represent the views of After12 Magazine. Should you have any queries or concerns, please don't hesitate to email them to info@after12mag.co.za

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