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Be ready to get disrupted!
“I have been in this particular technology field for over 10 years and progressed well in my career. However since the past year, I find myself very insecure, my role has lost its importance, my company wants me to learn new technologies and compete with the less experienced ones”.
This is a gist of many real life scenarios I learn from the people in my network and even the ones I interview for roles.
I fully understand the dilemma that they are going through, the insecurities they may be facing, and the uncertainties that can be bothering them. As I had mentioned in my last blog, today technology developments are rapid and happening at an exponential rate. Hence it is likely to disrupt several enterprises and their business models at a massive pace. This obviously creates a direct impact on the demands of people, their skills and the readiness to deliver.
Given that the changes are happening at an exponential rate, it is quite hard to predict the needed skill sets and technologies. Sometimes, things simply hit us when we are the most unprepared. But is there a way to face this kind of uncertainty? Is there way to prepare ourselves in order to not just survive but to thrive at the workplace?
Here are a few things that I think today’s Techies should work on:
Getting ready to get disrupted:
What makes it hard is when we are not mentally prepared to accept the need to change. Most of the times, we are in a denial mode and wish that there would be a way out without having to make efforts. In the coming times, we would have to be prepared to come out of our comfort zone. First step, always, is to prepare ourselves for the change. The upcoming disruption is a reality and we can no more ignore it as just a fantasy. Since fiction is soon turning real.
Understand what that ‘change’ has to be:
The next step is to identify trends in our respective technology domains and gear up for the next 3 to 5 years. For example: if you are in the database technology world and you are a DBA, you need to understand that DBA roles are morphing into Dev-Ops roles. Pure DBA work, that was done 5 years back, has totally changed due to many factors, including Cloud based implementations. Formerly, if one DBA handled 50 database servers, today they are handling hundreds of servers. Thus, either the need of a DBA is going down or at worst the need is eliminated.
Similarly, in each of our functions we need to understand the forces that bring these disruptions. In this example of a DBA’s role, we need to understand that database technology itself is getting redefined and not just for the sake of it, but because the sources of data have also undergone massive changes. In the coming days, these sources would evolve further rapidly and hence the technology to store the data would also undergo changes. In which case, a DBA needs to acquire knowledge of more than one or two technologies and show his/her ability to take the initiative to transform. Likewise, a technologist in any field today needs to map such expected changes and be ready.
How things are going to evolve:
Though no one knows how organizations are going to organize their teams, there are some pointers and we must try to understand their impact. In the olden days – not too long ago, till just 5 years back – teams were formed, recruitment was done based on model of scarcity. Scarcity of supply, scarcity of skills etc. But in the era of open source software, skills have become available in abundance. Today, you don’t need to depend upon a particular company to impart training (and hence limited supply of skills). In today’s era, access to knowledge, technology and training is widely available and hence people can acquire skills without any boundaries. This will offer new dimensions to team formations and would hugely impact the hiring approach. This would mean teams could be drawn from many sources, roles could be assigned not on the hierarchy but the need of the project. This means we would have to be prepared to play different roles in different teams – you could be a project manager in one project, a quality lead in another or just a technical resource in the third project. You would have to be ready for such dynamic scenarios.
How do you work towards it:
Once you coach your mind to bring out the changes, identify the broad trends, the next battle is how to make it happen. There would be specific lines of action for each one and cannot be generalized here. But these are broad pointers that you can put in practice:
- For technical resources, you should look at open source technologies, first and foremost. As of today, almost every big innovation is happening through open source communities.
- Get involved in open source communities – in any way that works for you – meetup groups, online forums, developer communities etc. This would keep you in the loop on upcoming trends.
- Make use of online trainings – You have access to practically every technology training through online courses now and there are hundreds of companies providing them. You can choose something that suites your schedule and need.
In short, this is a crucial time for all technologists but particularly difficult for mid-level professionals. There is going to be an uncertainty about the role, skills and hence the job itself. But there are many good opportunities mushrooming too. If you can acquire the new skills and show a way to leverage your experience, you will most certainly be in great demand.
Sachin Dabir – Founder, Director – Ashnik
Sachin is veteran in IT industry and brings over 25 years of experience in setting up new businesses, leading high performance sales teams and executing growth strategies. He is passionate about open source and is an acknowledged leader in open source in Asia. As a founder of Ashnik he is leading the growth initiatives and taking Ashnik global. His stints in Asia, UK and USA enables him to bring unique perspective to entrepreneurship and life. His interests in writing, reading and mentoring makes him an excellent networker. Currently he is learning to be a patient father to teenage sons and striving to be a good husband.