The cloud is changing IT skills

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

IT professionals have good reason to be optimistic about finding riches in the cloud. Explore the IT skill set areas supporting cloud strategies that are in demand.

April 6, 2018

A blog post by David Linthicum, managing director, chief cloud strategy officer, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Today in the US, 3.9 million jobs are associated with cloud computing with 384,478 of them in IT, according to Forbes.1 The median salary for IT professionals with cloud computing experience is $90,950.2 Worldwide, there are currently 18,239,258 jobs associated with cloud computing.3

However, the skills needed to get these jobs differ significantly from traditional IT roles. These changing skill sets drive demand for new skills. IT is reacting with both training and changes in the workforce. These changes in skills to support cloud platforms are not easy to define, which means enterprises need to look first at their own cloud requirements and then at what skills will be needed to progress toward their cloud goals.

Focusing on job changes, we see demand in the following skill set areas that support cloud strategies:

  • Cloud architect: Someone who makes the big calls about which platforms and tools to leverage. This person understands all cloud computing models and is prepared to select the right architecture and platforms to meet the needs of the business. These skills may exist in the enterprise and will have to be enhanced through training. Or, the enterprise may need to seek these skills outside of the company. 
  • Cloud database: A person with database management experience who understands the emerging cloud-based database technologies, including newer models such as NoSQL and “data lakes.” These skills are required to move to the cloud and take full advantage of newer and better opportunities to manage the data. Much like the cloud architect, these skills can be gained through training or an outside hire.
  • Cloud security and governance: Someone who focuses on emerging aspects of security and governance as they relate to cloud. This means identity and access management, as well as API/service-based governance, just to list a few technologies. Most security skills in the organization that will support cloud may have to be obtained mostly through outside hires due to the dramatic shift. 
  • Cloud monitoring and measurement: Someone who focuses on how to monitor cloud operations to proactively detect and resolve issues. This is an imperative role to fill given the emerging use of cloud. Consider the complexities of the architecture, and thus the number of points that must be monitored. We’re looking for patterns that indicate normal operations, or emerging issues that must be addressed soon, or issues that must be addressed immediately. Measurement determines what the data means, or, proactively mining massive amounts of data determines patterns that are of interest during operations. Concepts such as predictive analytics must be applied, the ability to set policies to spot data that is out of threshold, or to spot trends that lead to the identification of aspects of the system that need attention.

The good news is that most of these skills may be derived from current skill sets, including security, database, and monitoring. It’s just a matter of adapting current patterns to the use of cloud. After all, cloud is just another way to consume the same technology patterns that have been around for decades.

The bad news is that there may be a skills gap for some time, as training and careers attempt to catch up to cloud computing. I suspect that it will be 2021 before we see full parity with skills demanded vs. skills supplied.

Critical thinking rivals technical skills for Industry 4.0 success

When developing a talent strategy for innovation, TMT companies may want to look beyond the hunt for technical superstars. Savvy innovators should also consider how to build up their workforce’s non-technical proficiency, especially in critical thinking skills.

Industry 4.01 technology innovations—such as cloud computing, big data and analytics, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence (AI)—are enabling new products, services, and business models, and fueling a new era of digital transformation. They’re changing how organizations work—and the skills they seek. Stories abound about talent wars for techies like AI researchers and data scientists (aka “America’s hottest job”).2 Headlines proclaim that organizations are vying for the best technical talent, at any cost, to innovate rapidly.3 But that’s only part of the story.

1 The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, is a global concept, but it can take many different forms, and names, around the world. In the United States, the focus tends to be more on a more holistic digital evolution, and many use the term digital supply network. Within Europe, where the concept originated, the phenomenon is known as Industry 4.0 and tends to be more factory-based. While the terminology may differ, the overall concept remains largely the same and encompasses the same technologies and applications. Source: “Forces of change: Industry 4.0,” Deloitte, December 18, 2017.
2 Michael Sasso, “This Is America’s Hottest Job,” Bloomberg, May 18, 2018.
3 Jeremy Kahn, "Sky-High Salaries Are the Weapons in the AI Talent War," Bloomberg, February 13, 2018.

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