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How the cloud has shaped staff skill sets over the last decade

30th October 2015

When any major technological development emerges, it comes with a mixture of opportunity and disruption. Businesses must discover how to harness innovation for their own benefit, or risk being overtaken by a more agile competitor. However, it is difficult to embrace change, if your members of staff do not have the required skills to utilise the new technology. Over the last decade, cloud computing has had a significant impact on the work environment, making its way into a huge variety of businesses, large and small. The cloud has provided organisations with a huge range of benefits (greater productivity, mobile working, scalability, affordability and disaster recovery), and along the way has made a huge difference to staff skill sets.

Not just for tech firms

One of the most notable differences that cloud computing has made to the world of work is that it has made digital technologies more affordable for small and medium sized businesses. In the past, it was only employees at “traditional” IT firms that required digital skills, now staff from a wide range of industries are required to have some form of computer literacy. Independent retailers use the cloud to manage their supply chain while construction site managers use it to carry out work and upload images when on site. The cloud, with its subscription payment model, has meant that smaller businesses no longer have to deal with prohibitive upfront costs. The digital economy is broadening out to include a wider range of businesses and so employees must now have the digital skills required to thrive in this environment.

The growth of cloud computing has led to increased competition for individuals with IT skills. Recruiters are realising that the rapid rise of cloud computing threatens to leave a skills gap, where companies cannot find members of staff that have the knowledge and expertise to use cloud resources in an innovative way. It has meant that some existing members of staff have been retrained or reskilled in order to smooth the transition from in-house IT resources to those based in the cloud. Businesses have also had to face new challenges relating to the cloud, relying on their employees to handle any disruptions. Issues relating to data protection and integration are relatively recent business phenomena brought about by the cloud and employees that have the skills needed to deal with these issues are highly sought after.

Changes to IT

The cloud has also had a major impact on the skill sets required by more technical staff. The cloud delivery model has led to more regular software updates and faster deployments, changing the role played by developers. Software engineers must now have the skills to handle automation and DevOps, two relatively recent cloud developments. The role of developer is now closer aligned with operations staff and other IT personnel, meaning that they need to be able to work in larger teams and collaborate frequently. Cloud has also led to the growth of mobile working, so developers must be able to create flexible applications that suit this environment, as well as desktop PCs. Because the cloud has brought applications to a wider range of staff, developers must have the cross-competencies required to tailor software to different needs.

The rise of cloud vendors over the last decade has also had a major impact on the kind of skills desired by IT managers and CTOs. So much of the IT landscape can now be outsourced, from individual applications to entire infrastructures, so in-house skill sets are changing. Capacity planning and server maintenance, for example, are now being carried out by cloud vendors, leaving IT staff to focus on other processes. Instead, businesses need employees that understand the cloud environment all the way from the network layer to the application stage. Having knowledge of load balancing, network routing, virtualisation and open source technologies is extremely useful in the modern workplace.

The rise of the cloud has also led to the emergence of soft skills in the workplace. Partnership and teamwork is vital between customer and cloud vendor and collaboration is becoming more and more prominent. At Sungard Availability Services, we offer consulting packages alongside our cloud services to ensure that businesses have the help they need to overcome critical challenges. The cloud is changing the way we work in profound ways and vendor and business employees must adapt quickly to remain competitive.