Enterprises today understand that the future they need to plan for is already here. Or as William Gibson, an American-Canadian science-fiction writer wrote, “The future is here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” How organizations are responding to the idea of a future that is already here varies. However, while it is interesting to watch enterprises manage and prepare this “future,” my concern is how do we ensure just what kind of tomorrow are we creating? That is, as we lay the framework are we taking every measure conceivable to secure a future is shared equally by all?
The two main concerns for organizations
The future will challenge enterprises both in decisions about products, services, systems, development approaches and what steps to take to stay current given the rapid pace of technology. Of the former, already daily actions exist that will determine whether an organization can fend off industry disruptors or fade away like Blockbuster, Sears or Borders Books. For the latter, the short lifespan of many new technologies is beyond what many organizations can handle. However, if organizations do not get on the change or adaptability bandwagon, they and their technology albatrosses will get left behind.
What can organizations do to tackle these challenges?
Knowing what awaits them, how can organizations make better decisions about their products, services and other factors affecting their future? For starters, all companies need to become truly data-driven. That is an organization that has data-wranglers who can extract vital data from the silos, mixed-format files and any highly secure but important repositories. It is having the people who can distribute this data throughout an organization in a safe, governed, and scalable manner. However, and perhaps most important of all, it is having a cadre of data scientists who can bring all this data together and translate it into advantageous business insights such as suggestions for product directions, identifying anomalies in production, building automated recommendations for customers, or discovering actionable and valuable business/market intelligence.
Why security will become even more important
As an organization adapts and enables it company to become data-driven, it will need to strengthen its security practices continually. As in other years, in 2018 we saw many high-profile security breaches, including Facebook, Panera, MyHeritage, Under Armour, and Cambridge Analytica. Therefore, it is essential that before an organization starts to disseminate its data throughout the company security must become the top priority for everyone. Security breach methods are rapidly evolving, and every organization needs to adapt and pre-empt future hackings.
Agility is also essential
I believe companies genuinely do want to be agile. The problem is words are not enough. An organization must reflect the sentiment in how it delivers its software, services and products in a continually integrated, tested and deployed manner. Think about Netflix, do they shut down every time they release a new feature to their platform? Far too many organizations continue to struggle with working in an agile manner where continuous integration, continuous testing, and continuous deployment are part of regular business processes. Working this way takes a well-trained, highly functioning workforce operating in lock-step; it’s a way of making every organization feel like they are a software company, regardless of whether they are a retailer, a financial institution or another sort of organization.
Developing an agile workforce for the future
Time and again discussions of the future return to the subject of change and for an organization, this translates to having a workforce that is adaptable. Think about the variety of current Tech & Dev job titles that exist just a few years ago. We know that this is a trend that will continue and possibly even accelerate with time. What is the best way to develop an agile workforce? Every company must first become a learning company. If an entire organization is on a continual learning trajectory, it will adapt to whatever new technologies emerge in the future. Concerned about having enough data scientists on your team? Well, develop them. Provide your employees with the necessary learning resources so they can acquire the skills your organization needs to succeed. Want to understand more about the case for continual learning? I recommend reading IDC’s Workbook, “It’s Not Over When It’s Over,” and discover why when change is constant, learning must be too.
Skillsoft and the agile workforce
It’s Skillsoft’s goal to see businesses achieve success and we think our new Aspire learning journeys are just the ticket for this. Based on industry trends, customer feedback, and other pertinent data we identified many pivotal career paths that technology professionals should take to stay relevant. We’ve designed 16 Aspire journeys that provide learners the curated content to methodically develop the capabilities and skills needed to move from one role to another. Each Aspire journey features four key elements: job task orientation, sequenced instruction, practice and application and credentials. Each stage of the journey delivers 40-50 hours of courses and an additional 10-12 hours of practice labs and certification prep/assessments. These clear and detailed prescriptive roadmaps will ensure enterprise and technology professionals can advance in their careers while also helping their organizations maintain the agility and adaptability needed to remain competitive now and in the future.
Mike Hendrickson is the VP, Technology & Developer Products at Skillsoft.