As Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a-changin’.” Its a verse that sticks like glue in the back of my mind when I reflect on the technology landscape today. Just a few years ago, data analytics services were few and far between and cloud computing unheard of. For example, cloud-related spending was only 4 percent of the total IT market in 2009, but according to IDC this is expected to increase by 12 percent — equaling $55 billion — by 2014.
Technology is advancing at a rapid pace. What is innovative today will become old news before you can bat an eye. Systems like the cloud will continue to evolve and adapt as technology advances. As businesses strive to remain competitive, it is the IT specialists supporting the transition from old to new technology that are the hamsters caught spinning the wheel. How do you as an IT professional stay up-to-date with the newest technology while retaining a firm understanding of past software?
If you’re working in IT, one thing you can be sure of is your job will never get boring. With a career devoted to keeping networks and systems humming, you’ve dedicated yourself to a lifetime of continuous learning to stay on top of the latest trends and technology.
Fine-tuning skills and brushing up on certifications has always been part of the IT job description, but in recent years this is becoming less of an option and more of a requirement. To give some perspective: imagine getting your B.A. degree to find out three months later you have to go back to earn another degree and yet another six months after that. IT jobs demand the ability to grasp new technology quickly, and hiring managers are clamoring for people that can master this challenge.
According to the Department of Labor Information, technology employment is expected to grow between 18 to 26 percent for all occupations through 2014. There is a massive growth opportunity in IT that shows no sign of slowing down. Yet, hiring managers struggle to find skilled candidates that are versed both in legacy systems and new technologies like the cloud.
Until recently, the options for IT professionals to hone their skills were limited and often expensive. It’s a challenge that has plagued professionals in the industry for years: how to keep up with a constantly evolving field while juggling a full-time job. In the past, the only answer was time-consuming seminars and costly brick-and-mortar courses. Fitting a career, family and other obligations into the mix make these options less than desirable.
Lately, we’ve seen several companies break down traditional education barriers to provide a viable solution. Lynda.com, Treehouse and my own company TrainSignal are transforming the very foundation on which technology education is built — after all, shouldn’t education be just as innovative as the technology it supports? The flexibility and affordability makes online options appealing, but it’s the real-time capabilities that make it ideal for those working in technology.
Skills that might take months to grasp in classroom curriculums, can now be mastered in a matter of weeks or even days with online platforms. These courses are up-to-date and can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. That means a cloud engineer can brush up on the latest VMWare or Microsoft fundamentals during a moment of free time at work or during a long commute.
If you are a technology professional, the cloud is not just where you work, it’s where you can learn everything you need to know to have a successful career. Whether you are looking to learn how to build an app, spruce up your design skills or take a refresher course in virtualization, online resources are becoming widely available in all areas of technology. It won’t be long before we see that “the times they are a-changin” towards a more skilled, self-educated workforce across all industries.
By Scott Skinger