What will you need to know next year, in five years, in ten years, to be successful in your industry? What will your industry look like in the future? How has it evolved?
Think about how different your job or field was in the 1980s or 90s. Did your job even exist then? That’s only 20 or 30 years ago, and things have changed incredibly rapidly. In the early 90s, being able to use Microsoft Word and Excel were considered advanced computer skills for many jobs. Now, people don’t even list skills that basic on a resume.
The truth is, every single career field is changing — and if it isn’t, it’s going to become obsolete. If you think your career won’t be affected by changes in technology, I would like to respectfully submit that maybe you just don’t know which technologies are creeping up on you.
I see seven key skills that nearly every person in business will need to succeed in the near future. Smart employees with an eye to advancement will start earning and honing these skills today, to be prepared for the future.
- Understand Data . No, I’m not saying that everyone has to become a data scientist. What I am saying is that nearly every field I can think of will be affected by big data and analytics in the near future, so it makes sense for you to become familiar with the concept and how it works. Do some research into the kinds of data collected in your business and your field and into how it’s being used and applied. Learn the basics of how data is collected and analyzed to help you understand better how to ask the right questions of your data.
- Pay attention to cyber security . We’ve seen it happen: a breach in cyber security can make or break a company. Yet companies are slow to implement security measures that can protect them. No matter what your position within a company, being aware of cyber security helps protect you, your company, and your customers. This could be everything from keeping track of your ID badge to following IT’s recommendations when choosing a password, but it could also keep you from being the weak link in the security chain.
- Get comfortable with social. As companies get more comfortable with social media, they’re looking more and more to employees at all levels to be brand ambassadors online. Even if you aren’t officially asked to do so, high profile cases have shown that companies are not afraid to fire individuals who post embarrassing or illegal things to social media. Get familiar with your company’s policies and with the privacy settings on all your accounts. The more you know about how to use social well, the more of an asset you are to your company.
- Understand cloud computing. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon be entering the cloud. More and more, businesses are storing their data, their internal and external apps, and more in the cloud. Understanding the basics of how cloud computing works, where your company data is stored, and how to keep it secure makes you a more valuable employee.
- Become a pro at video communications. Video conferencing and communications are here to stay. Job interviews are conducted via Skype. Conference calls take place over video, as do webinars, trainings, client meetings and more. And in these high-pressure situations, you don’t want to be the guy or girl who can’t get his microphone to work. Take the time to learn to use video communications programs like Skype now so that you’re comfortable using them when it really counts.
- Embrace the Internet of things . “Smart” devices that are connected to the Internet already outnumber people connected to the Internet, and the field is only going to grow. I predict that most industries will incorporate some sort of smart devices — like sensors and RFID trackers — into their business models, so smart employees will learn the basics of how and why these devices work now. Look into what’s being done on the cutting edge in your field today, and you’ll be ready to step up and help implement it tomorrow. Everyone from CEOs to fork-lift drivers will be using Internet connected devices in their work in the future.
- Take your job mobile . Recently, I was in a clothing store where the sales clerks had iPhones and could ring you up anywhere in the store so you never even had to queue up for the registers. Computing is stepping away from the desk and going mobile — and not just mobile on tablets and phones, but mobile everywhere. If it hasn’t happened already, you may find in the future that you can access your work via an app on your phone or handheld device, or even a smart watch or panel embedded in your wall. This means that the more familiar you are with mobile operating systems, the more ready you will be to make the switch.
These are my top picks for tech trends that will affect almost everyone at every level. Becoming familiar with this technology, or taking your skills a step further if you know for certain they will be required, is a wise move for anyone.
What additional tech skills would you add to this list? How is your job changing because of advances in technology? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments below.
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