CXO

The 3 most valuable IT skills that will advance your career

Digital transformations are increasing the value of tech in the enterprise. Here are the most useful IT skills to learn.

Digital transformation has shifted from buzzword to necessity, as CXOs realize the vitality of these projects for successful business. IT employees are able to use digital transformation projects to merge tech with business goals and create an efficient, integrated outcome.

However, since one of the goals of digital transformation is to streamline IT processes, many previously critical IT skills are now becoming obsolete, paving the way for an updated IT skillset.

"It's more important to have a balanced career architecture that doesn't depend purely on in depth knowledge of technologies, which are rapidly changing all the time," said Eric Knipp, managing vice president of the Application Platform Strategies research team at Gartner for Technical Professionals.

SEE: IT training policy (Tech Pro Research)

For IT professionals to keep moving upward in the industry, technology skills alone may not be enough. Instead, tech knowledge should act as the foundation of their career architecture, while they also develop a combination of business expertise and vision, said Knipp.

Here are three IT skills today's CXOs are looking for in their employees.

1. Business intelligence and analytics

On both individual and industry levels, humans now generate massive volumes of data. The question lies in how to interpret and use that data productively in a business, said Knipp. This information can easily be used to improve delivery of services and experiences to customers, but the difficulty is the manner in which to execute that mission.

Many businesses are looking for somebody who knows how to interpret and optimize consumers' online habits, so the company can appeal to their audience in a way that will make them want to conduct their business at that organization, said Knipp.

However, "we can't afford to hire analysts, to figure this out. We have to take advantage of analytics technologies and machine learning technologies that are specifically used in customer facing environments," said Knipp. "Machine learning is this next wave of business intelligence and analytics, and the folks that are able to be conversant with that, sometimes they have a data science background, sometimes have a programming background with a lot of statistics understanding. It's all based in statistics."

2. Cloud services and solutions

One of the skill areas seeing a significant decrease in attention is infrastructure and operations (I&O), said Knipp. Some 30% of organizations report I&O as the first place they cut costs, Knipp added. Business are instead delegating those responsibilities to cloud service providers.

Accompanying the growth of cloud services in business is software as a solution (SaaS), which is another area future-minded IT professionals should pick up skills in.

"The closest thing that we're able to deliver to an actual business outcome is software, it's the solution," said Knipp. "As a result, you're seeing a massive growth in SaaS acquisition and implementation. What this means for the tech professional who wants to have a long career is they need to become an expert at SaaS integration. SaaS integration is a huge, huge piece of becoming an expert and becoming really valuable in cloud services and solutions."

3. Digitization and digital marketing

Digital marketing complements business intelligence and analytics skills—all of which aim to improve the customer experience. "All digital business really means is that every object that we interact with in the physical world will eventually have a digital analog that we can query, that we can manipulate," Knipp said. "What that really means for businesses is it becomes more possible to put the customer at the center of everything that we do."

However, to do this successfully, "I have to tailor my customer experiences to what you want based on my understanding of your needs, so that it combines with this analytics piece that we have, where we can make predictions," added Knipp.

IT employees with knowledge of both business analytics and digital marketing is a double threat for companies, as these tech experts are able to understand the technology, the customer, and the end goals.

"Building that coherent, cohesive experience requires great user experience design skills, modern web application, and mobile application development skills," said Knipp. "It requires being really conversant with a myriad of APIs from various SaaS providers that you will aggregate to deliver a productive solution."

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Image: iStockphoto/scyther5

About Macy Bayern

Macy Bayern is an Associate Staff Writer for TechRepublic. A recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Macy covers tech news and trends.

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