Working in the cloud requires conceptual skill sets
The inevitable takeover of cloud computing by organizations requires IT professionals to refine and adapt their skill sets accordingly. The basic skills needed for the IT field, such as program development and software application, remain virtually the same, says University of Phoenix faculty member Phillip L. Davidson. However, he suggests those burgeoning skills sets needed for cloud computing center on professionals adapting to the bigger, consumer-oriented picture.
“The jobs that are now being advertised for IT professionals, like cloud architect or cloud security, are technically the same jobs we had ‘last week’ before cloud computing” became international buzz words, says Davidson, a University of Phoenix School of Advanced Studies faculty member with oversight of the Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership (DM) program, and its specialty program, DM/Information Systems and Technology.
“The difference is perspective. The cloud architects, developers, security and web designer, etc. need to view cloud computing as a customer service,” he says.
This means employers are looking for IT professionals exemplifying both traditional technical skills and the more conceptual skills of collaboration, creativity and virtualization, among others. These skills, he adds, feed into the customer service orientation of cloud computing because it lays the proper foundation needed to deliver a seamless product to consumers and businesses utilizing cloud computing features.
Take Amazon’s Kindle™ for example, he says. Consumers go to Amazon because it offers a seamless , one-stop location for them to purchase book titles from any one if its cloud of sellers, who are located all across the nation. In this case, IT professionals must remain cognizant of the Amazon customers’ perspective and thereby apply collaborative and communication skills to their job that will continuously provide customers with seamless interactivity with a cloud-based web interface. Otherwise, Davidson says, consumers will lose interest and the cloud feature won’t work.
“The days of the software programmer sitting by himself or herself in a room somewhere writing code does not exist anymore,” emphasizes Davidson. ”The people [IT workers] we used to derise as ‘geeks’ now have to have people skills. This is a huge skill change for [some] IT people.”
Top skills to adapt
Don’t be left behind without the proper skills to accelerate an IT career within the cloud, Davidson advises. Of the many evolving skills particular to specific job descriptions, Davidson suggests IT professionals reposition themselves through education or experience to acquire the following list of universal skills that prioritize consumers:
- Virtualization — IT professionals must thoroughly understand how Internet and the World Wide Web architecture and infrastructure are set up, as well as the untethered servers and other hardware associated with them and the cloud. This may sound rudimentary, Davidson says, but it is a skill that both newbies and old-school workers alike need to learn or refresh, respectively, as cloud computing evolves.
- Creativity — Cloud computing offers all workers a “huge opportunity” to showcase creative skills to craft and implement innovative designs and applications for their clients. This may seem oxymoronic when IT professionals are better known for their logic and ability to write complicated code, but it is necessary to create seamless cloud-based services driven by customer perspective.
- Security —Employers are seeking cloud security specialists more than ever now as IT professionals transition and store sensitive data in the cloud, according to Davidson. This includes the more complex skill set of continuity planning should a business’ cloud (a.k.a. data or service) crash. Workers must devise a disaster contingency plan to support and access such cloud failures.
- Collaboration and Teamwork — Cloud computing relies on regular communication between businesses, vendors and cross-functional IT teams and their administrators to design and implement cloud-based services.
- Global Communication and Management — The cloud is without boundaries, which allows IT to engage in international business partnerships. IT professionals must possess both communications and leadership skills to parlay cloud applications with the deepest comprehension of clients’ geography, culture, technical laws, political implications and cultural sensitivity.
- Organization — There are different organizational levels within cloud computing. This includes:
- Physical and virtual structure organization — This is the more technical aspect discussed in “Internet and World Wide Web awareness.”
- Client organization — This is the organization of business cultures unfamiliar or familiar with IT that are transitioning to a aspect of their services to the cloud. Workers must have the ability to be sensitive and work within this structure to seamlessly implement the cloud-based service to the benefit of both the business and their customers.
- Organizational leadership — Workers must be able to adapt to the complexities of partnering with international companies within the cloud. This is where global communications and management become critical.
- Finance and Business — The basic fundamentals of budgets and business management help make a cloud-based partnership work.
- Laws and regulations — IT professional should keep abreast of the legal matters facing the cloud, such as the ongoing debate regarding private and public ownership of cloud-based data, to best determine how to effectively and legally execute their jobs.
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