IT industry is constantly changing. If you want to stay current, you need to be. It is very different from the way IT was done 50 years ago, 40 years ago, 30 years ago, and even 20 decades ago. The ideas of cloud computing and mobile devices, as well as the software-defined databasecenter, have made a significant impact on how IT departments are funded.
This article will address what you need in order to succeed in IT. We won’t discuss the technical aspects (though you do need to be skilled technically), but we will focus on the other skills and attributes that IT professionals have and need. If you fail to develop these other attributes you will most likely be unemployed looking for a new career.
These are my top five picks (in no particular ordering):
1. Learn everything you can
Knowledge is power. This is a mantra you have heard many times throughout your life. You should take every opportunity to learn, to watch a YouTube video, to attend a webinar, and to get a book. Technology is constantly changing. Skills learned two or three years ago are now obsolete. If your employer doesn’t give you time off, learn on your own. You can create a lab at your home to learn new skills and practice them. These skills will be required in your current job. Your employer will appreciate your new and improved skills. If they don’t, you can look elsewhere for the skills you have and be valued for what your contributions are.
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2. Learn technical skills in a variety of disciplines
There are no longer days when you could be a master of one subject and still keep your job (at minimum, at an entry-level position). As these areas intersect, you need to be able to understand storage, networking, and servers. This is especially important if you work within virtualization, cloud computing or the software-defined database arenas. However, this also applies to security, OS, and application people.
You need to understand at least the basics of the physical components. It’s worth learning about mobile platforms, including Android and iOS. They are being implemented in your corporate environment by all your users and you need to understand their implications to your environment.
You can’t be an expert in all of them. Learning and maintaining that level of knowledge is a full-time job. However, you will need to have a general understanding of the trends and fundamentals of each discipline to be able talk to people in the field.
3. Learn business skills
Many technical people I know believe that they only need to do a good job technically and that they will always have work. This may have been true in the past but it is no longer true. It is becoming more difficult to do the job well without understanding the business realities. IT exists to support organizations, not vice versa. Once you understand this concept, it will be easier to think in terms business benefits and consider how an expenditure will benefit the business. This is especially important if your goal is to become an independent consultant, or if it is your goal to move from a technical role to a managerial one (even a low-level one). You will be more likely to describe projects in business benefits terms, rather than cool technology or how it makes things go faster.
Learn business skills.
4. Learn more