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The Partner Perspective: 3 Technologies Every IT Pro Should Follow Closely


September 6, 2016

5 minute read

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Welcome to the BetterCloud Monitor’s first dedicated column, helping answer technologists’ most pressing workplace questions.

Designed as an advice column in the agony aunt/uncle style, we want to hear from readers like yourselves about problems you’re having in the workplace. As IT professionals, the majority of us face unique challenges in our ever-changing ecosystems. Whether you’re struggling to pitch a new SaaS product to your management, or frustrated at having to reset user passwords all day, this column is looking to share your story and give you some advice.

This past June I had the opportunity to speak about the transformation of the IT profession at Cloud IT Live. During the session, it became apparent to me that while IT professionals are more than happy to answer each other’s technical questions, the equivalent does not exist for strategic career advice.

The interweb frequently addresses basic career issues, but sometimes you just need another viewpoint specific to your troubles. With the encroachment of coworkers in your social media spheres, Facebook and Twitter rants aren’t always the best idea. It begins with you: readers are encouraged to submit questions to me via this form. Every two weeks, I will try my best to answer the most pressing issues facing our clan of IT professionals.

I want to use this first article to expand on my answer to a particular question that deserves more time than it was given during the webinar. The question came from James and read: Kevin, what top three skills would you recommend to develop our mindset and value in this changing IT world?

Here’s the answer I gave during the webinar (see minute mark 24:24):



During the webinar, I focused on the mindset we need as IT professionals for professional development. Off the cuff, I avoided listing hard skills and focused on the importance of open-mindedness, sharing, and risk taking cautiously.

I avoided rattling off hard skills because they vary from year to year and are not applicable to everyone. Most of us are tired of hearing that we ought to learn a programming language or pick up a certification in a different platform. While these do add value to an individual’s resumé, they are often dictated by interests and personal abilities.

Now that I have had time to reflect, I want to address the question to focus on three areas of interests IT professionals can look towards for new opportunities.

Remember: If you want us to answer your question, submit it here!

1. Cloud Computing

You may think I’m indulging myself by listing Cloud Computing as the top skill for IT professionals, but there’s plenty of evidence behind my claim. LinkedIn does an annual global survey of the top 25 skills listed across its professional network. In 2014, cloud computing didn’t even make the list, but in 2015 cloud and distributed computing took the top spot. Forrester predicts the cloud market will exceed $191 billion by 2020.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos believes Amazon Web Services (AWS) could one day be the company’s biggest business. Google has set its sights on making its cloud business bigger than its advertising arm, hiring cloud pioneer Diane Greene.

The beauty of the cloud is that there’s enough of it to go around for all of us. The term “cloud computing” is a catchphrase that serves as an umbrella term for a variety of jobs and business areas. It’s moldable to suit your interests.

I’m not advocating one particular platform over another. What I’m suggesting is that you embrace the inevitable cloud transformation of all your business platforms, and start taking your company in that direction.

2. Big Data

Big data has been hyped for years, and the transformation never seems to end because we keep adding things to it. It started with web analytics. Now we include data management, data analysis, data visualization, and business intelligence. That’s not even the complete list.

Harvard Business Review emphasizes that “to build lasting advantage, marketing programs that leverage big data need to turn to more strategic questions about longer-term customer stickiness, loyalty, and relationships.” As these components of big data shift from being luxuries to necessities within every business, there will be plenty of opportunities for IT professionals to create added value.

The historian Yuval Noah Harari, famed author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, goes as far as to say that Big Data could one day replace free will, “Once Big Data systems know me better than I know myself, authority will shift from humans to algorithms.” The power of Big Data in our lives will be inevitable.

3. Artificial Intelligence

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the age of the machines is upon us. With the technological and cultural changes we’re achieving through cloud computing and big data, AI is the logical evolution of where our industry is headed.

Techcrunch calls it “exponential cross-pollination.” The most noticeable and immediate effect AI will have on our jobs is automation. Processes and workflows that previously took a team to manage will be set up by one person, and run automatically. Phase two of this evolution will come from machine learning.

Facebook lists AI as one of its three pillars of innovation in their 10-year plan. As this is still a nascent technology, the future is unclear, but that’s why it also represents the biggest opportunities for IT professionals.

A Promising Future Ahead

While the three hard skills you should be learning will be always be highly individualized, these three areas within the technology space hold promising futures for all of us. Only time will tell how many of our jobs converge within these three spaces, but knowing of them will us reduce the friction of change.

Every person you ask will have a different perspective on questions like the one asked by James. My hope is that over time readers like you will trust me for advice. The Partner Perspective is merely meant to be a different take on questions that affect all of us as IT professionals.

Have a question you’d like me to answer? Take 10 seconds and submit it here.

Who is Kevin Liu?

Kevin-LiuAvalon SolutionsI am currently the Partner Manager at Avalon Solutions, based in Stockholm, Sweden. In my role, I help companies big and small move their business processes to the cloud. This seemingly innocuous journey can sometimes be riddled with obstacles and it’s my job to make the transition as smooth as possible through the aid of the right tools.

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, traveling, and binge watching Netflix. With over 2150 movies under my belt, I’m not your average couch potato.