Digital transformation: 7 in-demand technology skills

Looking to boost your organization's digital transformation progress? Consider these key technology skills
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The pandemic jolted businesses across the globe, forcing them to accelerate their digital initiatives – some achieved years’ worth of digital transformation initiatives in a matter of months. And with remote work in effect, organizations also had to invest in collaborative platforms for employees and self-service portals for customers to ensure business continuity.

Organizations today continue to invest in digital transformation priorities, and the demand for those with skills in cloud, rapid application development (low code), and new-age technologies is growing. As companies compete to attract candidates who are proficient in emergent technologies, candidates with extensive experience in these areas are in a strong position to drive digital transformation initiatives, optimize costs, approach complex issues innovatively, and aid in the decision-making process.

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Here are seven of the most valuable IT skills that employers are looking for today:

1. Cloud computing

COVID-19 created a perfect digital storm as businesses of all sizes scrambled to leverage cloud services. Besides enabling remote work, the cloud model has numerous long-term benefits, including business scalability and optimized infrastructure costs. According to a MarketsandMarkets study, the global cloud computing industry expects to grow from $371.4 billion in 2020 to $832.1 billion by 2025, making cloud computing one of the fastest-growing employment opportunities.

Organizations are actively looking for candidates with hands-on experience in building and maintaining cloud-based applications. Some of the most sought-after profiles include cloud architect, cloud security specialist, cloud migration specialist, and cloud administrator.

[ Learn the non-negotiable skills, technologies, and processes CIOs are leaning on to build resilience and agility in this HBR Analytic Services report: Pillars of resilient digital transformation: How CIOs are driving organizational agility. ]

2. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML)

IDC predicts that the AI market will break the $500 billion mark by 2024, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.5 percent and total revenues reaching an impressive $554.3 billion. As organizations undertake digital transformation and remote work, they are realizing the vast possibilities offered by technologies like AI/ML. The increasing adoption of AI is also driving the demand for specific AI-skill sets like AI specialists, big data developers, data analysts, data scientists, and data engineers.

3. Mobile app development

Demand for mobile app developers was trending up even before the pandemic, but the effects of the pandemic and widespread digital infusion resulted in exponential growth in mobile applications. Since the pandemic, mobile application downloads have increased 23.3 percent, and the global mobile application market projects $407.31 billion by 2026. Given this growth, the demand for hiring mobile app developers is at an all-time high. The specific skill sets employers are looking at include programming skills, cross-platform development skills, agile methodology skills, and UI/UX skills. 

4. UX design

IDC predicts that by 2025 there will be 55.7B connected devices worldwide, 75% of which will be connected to an IoT platform. As the demand for digital content, digital platforms, and mobile applications increases, the need for skilled UX designers is also on the upswing. Startups and businesses are looking for experienced designers with the skills to design the next generation of IoT interfaces, websites, and apps. UX design is one of the top 5 skills in demand, per this LinkedIn report. And the focus is on UX consultants, UX Design Specialists, UX Researcher, and Product Design Consultant.

[ Get answers to key digital transformation questions and lessons from top CIOs: Download our digital transformation cheat sheet. ]

5. Blockchain

Blockchain started as the technology for digital currency. Today, blockchain-based technologies have forayed into insurance, healthcare, real estate, banking, logistics, and more. As the demand for blockchain applications increases, there has been a steady increase in the demand for roles such as blockchain developers, blockchain system architects, and blockchain software engineers.

6. Cybersecurity

As organizations increase their digital presence and transition to cloud and remote work, the risk of security breaches on their systems and enterprise networks become very real. To thwart ransomware, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, user error, and other threats, organizations need strong cybersecurity defense systems.

According to a survey by Robert Half, 44 percent of CIOs and CTOs consider cybersecurity a top strategic priority, and a Gartner Research survey reports a surge in demand for information security roles post-pandemic. The core skills that organizations are looking at include information security, network security, cloud security services, web security, and security architecture.

[ The DevSecOps approach can help. For a shareable primer on DevSecOps and its benefit, see What is DevSecOps? ]

7. DevOps

The demand for software engineering skills is increasing, and DevOps has the most in-demand developers for 2021 to ensure a smooth software development process. A MarketsandMarkets report suggests that the DevOps market size is slated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.7% and reach USD 10.31 Billion by 2023.

A hybrid hiring model

The pandemic created an urgent need for virtual recruitment and onboarding processes. Talent acquisition functions underwent massive transformations to combat the challenges of hiring during COVID. As digital became pervasive across HR functions, technologies like analytics, data science, AI, RPA, and VR started transforming processes to drive personalized engagements. AI is transforming traditional HR processes, including recruitment, onboarding, self-service transactions, learning, and development.

Virtual recruitment platforms have enabled talent acquisition leaders to test, interview, and assess candidates safely. Virtual processes also make it easier and faster to reach candidates across remote locations. Technology is a great enabler, allowing talent acquisition teams to offer candidates unique value propositions such as virtual office tours and more.

The path forward

Digital transformation has opened new opportunities for candidates looking to kickstart IT careers. As the job market becomes more competitive, it’s the perfect time for them to upskill and re-skill. Talent acquisition leaders are also in a strong position as hiring models evolve.

New technologies are creating a win-win opportunity for hiring leaders and candidates alike. The efficiencies and ROI that virtual hiring technologies offer will ensure their place in the future of business.

[ Culture change is the hardest part of digital transformation. Get the digital transformation eBook: Teaching an elephant to dance. ]

Vivek Mani Tripathi is Vice President – Human Resources at Newgen Software. He brings a wealth of experience to his role of providing strategic leadership in the planning and implementation of quality-based integrated human resource programs.