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Staying competitive in turbulent tech times

Sunday January 13 2019

TECHNOLOGY

Cloud computing concept. Millions of people and companies have turned to cloud services because they provide efficiency. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM WAMBUGU
By SAM WAMBUGU
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Three things rule the skills market: competition, automation and change.

The world is increasingly inundated with technology, yet there is a disproportionate pool of skills. Businesses need these skills to keep their engines humming and bump up their profits.

At the same time, thanks to automation, some skills have run their course and reached a dead-end street.

Here is the point: The punch that knocks you down is the punch that you don’t see coming.

Professionals need to hedge their bets by staying alert, anticipate change and adjust in tandem.

SKILLS

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Every year, LinkedIn.com — a social media platform geared to professionals ­­— compiles a list of skills companies are hankering for.

Big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, cyber security and data analytics are cachet skills on that list.

Experienced software developers for mobile devices to match the proliferation of mobile devices also remains marketable, just as social media management skills and a host of other tech skills.

Whereas some countries may have a higher number of skilled people in some of these areas compared to others, overall, no country is self-sufficient, much less developing countries.

Big data, for example, has become almost a fetish lexicon in business. It refers to high volumes of sophisticated data generated from different sources, both inside and outside of a business.

If harnessed well, these data carry incredible insights.

DATA SCIENTISTS

To make meaning out of these data, businesses need appropriately skilled data scientists.

Big data scientist are proficient in mathematics and statistics, data modelling, programming and general business acumen.

Those who can infer insights into areas such as customer buying behaviours, sales patterns, marketing trends and product development have the mettle and mindset for data analytics.

More than a decade ago, tech companies figured out ways that data and software could be distributed efficiently across several machines and their power pooled for collective use.

This discovery heralded what is known as “cloud computing”.

Millions of people and companies have turned to cloud services because they provide efficiency.

Efficiency in data management and data security. They bring to bear top-notch experts to manage these sophisticated datasets.

CHANGE

If there’s one thing you can count on in terms of both technology and the job market, its change.

Lao Tzu, an oft-quoted Chinese philosopher, puts it this way: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality.”

To keep climbing the professional totem tree, high-tech workers have to be ready to fully adopt change: the latest software, devices, applications and digital tools.

On their own, however, hardcore tech skills don’t sell well. As we have stated in this column previously, soft skills remain critical for nearly all jobs.

Skills that imbue empathy, connection, courage and emotional intelligence will not lose their sheen soon.

Mr Wambugu is an informatics specialist. Email: [email protected] @samwambugu2

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