It may not have escaped your notice that business has changed dramatically over the last couple of decades. The driver of that change has undoubtedly been the rise of information technology (IT). Whether it is the ease of communication facilitated by email, video conferencing and sharing documents on the cloud or the more sophisticated methods of gathering, storing and analyzing data in the digital age, the internet and related technologies have transformed the way in which we work.
Why IT Skills?
An inevitable side effect of this phenomenon, however, is that workers at all levels are required to constantly learn new skills or risk being left behind. Technology doesn’t stand still and is currently progressing at a rapid rate. Staying on top of the IT skills that are desirable in your job role is a must for progressing in your career. There’s every chance that those skill sets may soon go from being desirable to being essential, which means that employees can’t afford to stand still. In today’s fast-paced world, you’re either moving ahead or slipping behind.
Competence in all aspects of Microsoft Office is now generally considered an entry-level requirement in many areas of business. Word, PowerPoint and Excel are all now ubiquitous tools for writing and editing documents, making presentations and working with spreadsheets. CRM (customer relationship management) software like Salesforce and Hubspot is also making its presence felt beyond the retail environment and is just as useful for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-client (B2C) purposes in terms of gathering and using valuable data about transactions and preferences.
More complex skills like coding are also increasingly in demand when it comes to creating and managing websites, databases and software. Understanding HTML is the bottom line for managing a simple website or blog, but for more advanced coding, Java is considered a universal language for building software. Structural Query Language (SQL) is the most common programming language used for managing databases and is an extremely valuable and transferable skill to have in today’s business world.
For many actual and potential employees, learning these skills can seem like a daunting task. While a growing number of business graduates will have studied IT in college, these skills will need to be constantly updated. Many older employees, meanwhile, will have little or no understanding of IT, even at the executive level.
For employers, this can present a serious problem in terms of how to fill those gaps in their company’s IT skill base. In some cases, it may not be worthwhile to employ someone full-time in a particularly specialist field. If someone with a certain skill is needed for a one-off job, a better approach might be to hire a specialist IT contractor on an as-needed basis. Hiring someone registered with an umbrella company will mean that tax and contractor pay are taken care of and any other issues arising from temporary employment will be handled professionally through a trusted intermediary.
For the employee wishing to stay employable or anyone looking for a new job, in-work training courses exist in all aspects of information technology. Anyone who works in business should consider taking one of these courses if they feel there are areas relating to their job role that they are not fully up-to-date with. Those seriously wishing to advance their careers might want to consider refreshing their IT skills on an annual basis. Studies suggest that learning a new IT skill could lead to a pay hike of up to 25 percent.
Alternatively, those with a knack for IT skills might want to consider setting up their own business as a specialist freelancer. With the right knowledge and a proven portfolio of skills, IT contractors can command high rates of pay and are likely to find themselves increasingly in demand in the world of contemporary business.
There’s no doubt that IT is now at the heart of all business sectors. Whether we’re talking about social media engagement, cybersecurity, mobile app development, service delivery automation or the new possibilities created by the Internet of Things (IoT), as technology spreads, more new roles are created. Customers increasingly expect to interact with companies online, and business needs to meet and surpass those expectations. At the same time, the risk of fraud or data theft is greater than ever, and every company has a responsibility to protect itself against such eventualities. The future presents many new challenges, but many new opportunities exist as well.