Organisations have been adopting new technology in the name of progress for decades. With each new wave of technology, IT professionals are required to learn new technical skills in order to stay relevant. It doesn’t take long for a technology to go from a mystic concept to something that is revolutionising the way we live and work. Procrastinate for too long, and you could be left behind.

Each new wave of technological change seems to bring with it potential benefits to an organisation even larger than the last. Cloud and the Internet of Things have the power to redefine entire industries, and our lives and businesses are being transformed faster than ever before as a result. As an IT expert, it is your responsibility to ensure you have the right skills to safely lead an organisation through the transformation process.

The depth and breadth of skills needed for the latest IoT and cloud solutions are such that you can no longer go it alone. For instance, with IoT, you need to be able to technically understand everything from the endpoint sensor, right the way through to custom applications in a hybrid cloud environment running sophisticated cognitive analytics. We’ve helped some customers design and build sensors from scratch, while other customers have required security and networking expertise so that the data generated from the sensors can be fed through gateways, often to a custom application sitting in a cloud. Client demands of their IT providers are vast, and still increasing. There are numerous examples of IT providers employing our team of software developers to build these custom applications for them, based on the output of end-user workshops. The same team has been used to augment IoT data with other data sets from a third party application, such as a customer relationship management tool or IBM Watson, and the expertise of our analytics team has even been drawn upon to find meaningful insights in big data sets and represent the information in a way that users find valuable.

The biggest adjustment for IT professionals is the realisation that a technical skillset alone is no longer enough. Completely transforming the way an organisation operates is a skilled process, and IT professionals are now required to not only execute IT processes, but also convince their organisation of the need for change in the first place. The implementation then must be led from the top – at board level. To do this, you need credible professionals who are able to sit amongst senior board members and explain to them, without using jargon, why they need to embark on the journey. It is much more than just investing in technology. Most of these transformation projects require a complete overhaul and restructuring of an organisation.  So, in addition to broad and deep technical skills, IT professionals now also need to be experts in leadership and change management.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The IT professional has to be an outstanding innovator and an incredible inventor. ” hashtags=”IT, IoT”]

Moreover, cloud and IoT are “innovation catalyst” technologies since the limits of what is possible rest on how well an IT professional can innovate.  The IT professional has to be an outstanding innovator and an incredible inventor. Why outstanding and incredible? The point of this technology is to outperform your competitors. You need to think of new innovative solutions to business challenges that will give the organisation a competitive edge – this requires people with brilliant and creative minds.

Personally, I believe the skillset required has become so vast that it is unlikely to find everything you need in one individual. But this is no bad thing – IT providers will need to build a more balanced team with individuals of different personality types to stay afloat in today’s market.  I see this opening the IT industry to a broader range of individuals and perhaps make it more appealing to women. After all, greater diversity can only be a good thing in any industry.

If you work for an IT provider, you will be familiar with the challenge of balancing the right skills and expertise with profitability. Whilst finding good people in terms of skill and attitude can be difficult, choices surrounding utilisation and making the numbers balance financially remain challenging – even with the benefit of good staff. Most IT providers prefer to have their skills remain in-house, but this is not financially viable and, looking ahead, IT providers must find external partners with skills to complement their own in order to survive.

At Tech Data, we’re in a very fortunate position in that respect. Few IT providers have the scale and resources of a $25+ billion global IT distributor, and we can fill skills gaps for our customers and partners on a project-by-project basis.  In this way, we can help IT providers on-board new technologies without significant financial risk.

But what about the skills you want to build up in-house? Our Academy business focuses on providing vendor-authorised technical training to IT providers and their customers. When it comes to deployment of hardware and software solutions, it is essential for teams to have up-to-date knowledge, not to mention first-class training which helps IT, professionals, to build more fulfilling careers in the industry and enhance their personal development. Cloud and IoT are very broad terms that apply to lots of different types of technology, and so, when it comes to technical IT training, there is no single technical course that covers everything an IT professional will need. Instead, we help students to identify the right product and technology courses for them using the right vendors and then guide them through the certification process.

Finally, a successful cloud and IoT project depends on having a good understanding of the cloud and IoT ecosystems which today include new and exciting technology companies that have been born in the cloud or IoT. Many of these don’t come from the traditional data centre environment. These companies are pushing the boundaries of technology to deliver transformational and innovative solutions faster, as well as slashing development costs. Tech Data is passionate about helping its partners understand and navigate the ecosystems and using its contacts to open doors for our customers.

IT professionals have always been about understanding business requirements and delivering a robust and relevant solution. Today that takes visionaries – individuals who will lead the strategy conversations and, through innovation, show businesses what is possible. The rewards for those who can do this are significant and continuing to grow. We see this on a daily basis, and it is why we are so committed to helping IT professionals guide their organisation through IoT, cloud, or a business transformation journey, from start to finish.