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SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow

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SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow

Written By Patrick Hubbard, Head Geek, SolarWinds

Modern-day technology professionals are at a crossroads in their careers, as they seek to balance today's tech realities with tomorrow's expectations-on top of their own personal aspirations. Are they equipped to successfully manage today's increasingly complex tech environments and emerging technologies? Do they have the skills and training necessary to confidently manage new technology innovations?

SolarWinds recently published the latest edition of its annual IT Trends Report, IT Trends Report 2019: Skills for Tech Pros of Tomorrow, which explores existing and emerging technologies and the extent to which today's technology professionals feel equipped to manage not only their daily environments, but personal career growth. How do they stack up, and what's on their minds for tomorrow?

The North American findings are based on a survey fielded in December 2018, which yielded responses from 307 technology practitioners, managers, and directors in the United States and Canada from public- and private-sector small, mid-size, and enterprise companies.

Among many other key findings, this year's survey revealed:

The majority of technology professionals are not fully confident they have all the skills needed to manage their environments into the near future, especially when it comes to emerging tech.

  • 75% of all tech pros surveyed said they are not "completely confident" in having all the necessary skills to successfully manage their IT environments over the next three to five years-even though 99% of tech pros have worked to develop a skill over the past 12 months.
  • When it comes to the idea of implementing or managing specific technologies, emerging tech is a pain point, in part because of the mindshare buzzworthy technologies have with executives. The top three technologies tech pros feel unequipped to manage with their current skillsets are:
    • 1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) (53%)
    • 2. Quantum computing (43%)
    • 3. Machine and/or deep learning (43%)

In the year ahead, tech pros must approach skills development strategically and should prioritize necessary training based on the needs of daily operations and IT environments, as well as skills that translate to career growth.

Tech pros will continue building skills in daily operations with an eye toward areas like data science. 

  • In the past 12 months, tech pros have prioritized skills in systems and infrastructure management (47%), security management (SIEM, policies, compliance, 41%), and hybrid IT deployment/management (41%).
  • In the next three to five years, the top two skills tech pros plan to develop skills are hybrid IT deployment monitoring and management (47%) and security management (46%).
  • Data science and analytics round out the top three skillsets tech pros plan to develop in the next three to five years.
    • The desire to build skills in data science also hints at tech pros' preparation for emerging tech like AI.

Nearly all tech pros surveyed have their sights on at least some data science in the near future. While it will be critical to develop a sense of data science techniques and how to think about them as more vendors contribute to industry-wide standards, today's tech pros shouldn't need to become data scientists. Instead, tech pros should spend time familiarizing themselves with the key tenets of data analytics as part of their awareness of data science principles.

Tech pros say hybrid IT, security, and software-defined everything are the key technologies for career development, which will help achieve higher goals like innovation.

  • Tech pros say the most important technologies for their career development are (by weighted rank) aligned with the top three technologies for organizations' transformation over the next three to five years:
    • 1. Cloud and/or hybrid IT (72%)
    • 2. SIEM and/or threat intelligence (54%)
    • 3. Software defined networking, security, data center (46%)
    • Numbers four and five on the list are AI and big data analytics, respectively, suggesting that tech pros are thinking about the impact of emerging tech on their careers.
  • When it comes to career development goals over the next three to five years, tech pros will look to prioritize (by weighted rank):
    • 1. Technology innovation (57%)
    • 2. IT security protocol and/or processes (44%)
    • 3. Strategic planning (31%)

While it's true many tech pros may still do more "work" using the command line and have reason to be skeptical of accomplishing major change via PowerPoint, the opposite is actually true: tech pros who can learn the language of business will be able to successfully influence technology decisions and up-level their resumes. Find ways to better understand what the business cares about-typically growing revenue, reducing cost, and removing risk-and how technology can positively affect those three performance indicators.

Tech pros have an appetite to prioritize career development on a weekly basis but are hindered by factors like time and cost.

  • More than eight in 10 tech pros (83%) say their day-to-day IT tasks extend into time earmarked for career development, with 28% saying this always happens.
  • Tech pros cite time and availability (48%) and cost (29%) as the biggest barriers affecting their current ability to participate in IT skills training and career development programs at the frequency they would like.
  • When it comes to their primary sources for training, tech pros turn to:
    • 1. Vendor training (20%)
    • 2. Online communities/forums (18%)
    • 3. Industry events (18%)
  • However, the ideal delivery format for IT skills training according to tech pros is (by weighted rank):
    • 1. In-person workshop/user conference (full-day)
    • 2. Self-guided online course
    • 3. Webinar

To truly capitalize on the opportunities presented by emerging technologies-and ultimately remain competitive five years from now-tech pros must commit to the mindset of a lifelong learner by taking a more disciplined, proactive approach to new skills and career development. Start small and set aside manageable, realistic amounts of time to invest in personal development.

Final thoughts

Tech pro skill development is a collaborative and crucial undertaking as emerging tech not only becomes mainstream (and thus, increasingly implemented) but significantly influences personal career goals. It's also important to note that not only is more training in these areas needed, it's highly sought after. The challenge is not allowing the urgency of day-to-day tasks to impede their ability to participate in learning sessions they find most valuable, like full-day courses, self-guided trainings, or webinars.

The SolarWinds 2019 survey results shed light on the need to empower skillset and career development for technology professionals. And its primary goal is to help both tech pros and leadership transform ineffective technology today, while also preparing for future business opportunity. This can only be accomplished if business management and leaders are on board, making it increasingly important for tech pros to learn the language of business, as well as collaborate across departments, prioritize training in emerging tech, cultivate high-level skills in data science and analytics, and create a blueprint for their career development.

2019 presents tech pros with the opportunity, now more than ever, to demonstrate and capitalize on the critical tie between skills development, business transformation, and career growth.

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About the Author

PATRICK HUBBARD, Head Geek

Patrick Hubbard 

An accomplished technologist with over 20 years of experience, Hubbard's career includes software development, operations, product management and marketing, technology strategy, and advocacy. An unapologetic market-hype deconstructionist, Hubbard is passionate about arming technology professionals with the tools and skills to deliver services that delight, not just satisfy, users. Hubbard's current focus is helping enterprises adopt cloud-native and DevOps techniques that deliver the business transformation CIOs increasingly demand.

Since joining SolarWinds in 2007, Hubbard has combined his technical expertise with an IT customer perspective to drive product strategy, launch the Head Geeks, develop and manage the SolarWinds Certified Professional (SCP) and SolarWinds Academy Training Classes programs, and create the SolarWinds online demo platform. Today, most admins recognize Hubbard as the executive producer of the Telly award-winning SolarWinds Lab, and SolarWinds THWACKcamp.

Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019 7:28 AM by David Marshall
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