Preparation is the key to a predictable future when it comes to our jobs. Perhaps we hadn’t thought about this much in a world that was very different 20 to 30 years ago. You can just buy the newspaper and look up the classifieds for a job. A simple phone call and you could be contacted for an interview in as little as two weeks as this was a policy almost all the companies followed then. Two weeks, and you could be notified whether you’re up for an interview or even hired. Even the longest waiting time was a month. What a great time it was because you could get closure or hired fast.
However, steady modernisation and complexities have slowly cut through its paces throughout the world since then. This is acutely true in the last twenty years and for those of us who came into the workforce in the 80s and 90s, we found ourselves caught in the cusp of great change from the years 2001 onwards. The warning signs were there, but it was difficult to see where it all was headed then.
Now in hindsight, we can see what affected the marketplace in that era and take some warnings to heart. In the mid 2000s, new kinds of tech jobs with new demands appeared in the marketplace and many were caught off guard. These new jobs forced people to learn new skills quickly. This steady change is still continuing and will greatly change the marketplace in the years to come.
We see the same kind of changes happening, but at an even faster rate because the pace is accelerating. The marketplace won’t be the same even in the next 5 to 10 years.
Now, among other examples, let’s just take two of them.
1. Amazon launched its first mobile website in 2001, which kickstarted the eCommerce race. (No need to elaborate on this one)
2. Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. A new convenience in your hands.
Although other mobile services such as mobile banking started way earlier, it wasn’t until this era, (June 29th 2007 to be exact) when 270, 000 people snapped up the first iPhone within days. By November of that year, sales would hit 1.4million units.
In a TIME report then, “One of the big trends of 2007 was the idea that computing doesn’t just belong in cyberspace, it needs to happen here, in the real world, where actual stuff happens. The iPhone gets applications like Google Maps out onto the street, where we really need them. And this is just the beginning. Platforms are for building on.”
Some questions to ponder.
1. Can we count the number of apps and innovations that have come up since then?
2. How many times have you paid your bills and shopped from Lazada, Shopee or Amazon using your laptop or phone?
3. How many times have you complained of no Wifi, a technology that didn’t even exist not too long ago?
4. Do you notice that tech services encompass everything from ordering food, groceries, a ride and even allows you to work from home now?
Since those years of the first iPhone, the jobs and services surrounding it and the digital industry have only grown bigger, more complex and will continue in that way creating more jobs and services along those paths. This is what we’re talking about.
Prior to this era, a graphic designer, for example, can make a comfortable living knowing just 4 – 5 applications such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Indesign, Acrobat and Adobe Premier. But now, you can forget about being a graphic designer armed with just the above. Since 2010 till now, you need to have a laundry list of skills like wireframing and UI/UX design, web design and HTML, photography, communication, and art direction. On top of that you need to think like a marketer and the list goes on.
So with the end of our short history lesson, We’d like to draw your attention to 4 skills that would help you survive the years to come in the digital industry.
1. AI. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
You are already being bombarded by AI everyday. It’s getting to know you, your shopping pattern and habits and suggests other things for you to buy based on your behaviour. It also tracks your movements, places you visit and asks for your reviews. It tells you you’re popular and uses your reviews to influence others too. Yes I’m talking about online shopping and Google Maps. AI is simply intelligence demonstrated by machines which learn and develop the ability to decide and take actions towards a goal. The most prominent ones are:
1. Content DNA Platform.
2. Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine.
3. Azure Machine Learning Studio.
7. Amazon Alexa.
8. Google Assistant.
Without going too deep, the development of smart systems brings efficiency to businesses like gathering data and automation of tasks without human intervention. With this much AI implementation and activity underway now, it’s only a matter of short time before it finds its way into your job description. Hence, brush up your skills now. There are plenty of free online courses that can get you started. Trust me, they help!
2. UI/UX Design
This stands for User Interface / User Experience Design. This designer would create user friendly interfaces which enable customers to navigate easily. Many of us like the clean and elegant usability of IOS while a good number of us prefer Android. The clunky grey and boxy computer has come a long way since Jony Ive redesigned the iMac. In his own words, “A computer can absolutely be sexy.” Both Jobs and him would lead Apple into a glorious era and by putting design and user friendliness first, and a new tactile interface was born. Gone were the days where you had to sit in front of a computer with clunky tasks and difficult to learn software, freeing up precious time. An elegant user screen offering an enjoyable experience made way for more technologies like Retina screens and the like.
A UI/UX Designer should be armed with these just to name a few:
1. Wireframing and UI Prototyping.
2. Adobe XD.
3. InVision Studio.
One should also study and research on other designer’s work and this is a step up from being a simple graphic designer. You need to do UI/UX research and up skill yourself like:
1. Learning up Wireframing and Prototyping.
2. UX Writing and Visual Communication.
3. Step up your storyboarding and interaction design skills.
4. Collaboration and understanding even the smallest change in the consumer market and leveraging on that change from a sales and marketing point of view.
If this interests you, there is also a new course offered by Google titled Google UX Design Professional Certificate.
Having a good head in this area will put you in front and centre for the future in online and retail sales. Manufacturers and retailers are and have been in a constant, tight war to outdo each other in pushing out their products. Even more so with the advent of China as the workshop of the world, how do they intend to dump their product if not by eCommerce?
To wrap your head around this, try enrolling yourself for the free Digital Marketing Workshop by HRDF. This skillset which comes with a certificate can start you out on your journey. Apps that help businesses drive their sales and branding are their craving point. There are of course too many areas of deep specialisation in the area depending on the industry. Each industry has its own pain points which could be addressed by a person with that expertise such as:
1. Data Analysis.
2. Marketing Automation.
3. SEO and any Social Media.
Digital Marketing is a huge and vast area. We would say that it’s an endless rabbit hole of learning new technologies as they come and new opportunities to move products and build multiple customer bases.
4. Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity
This is simply the ability to store data over the internet as opposed to traditional means on your local hard drive. Companies produce huge amounts of data so it’s not practical for them to keep buying hard drives and accept all the liability of keeping that data safe. Enter cloud computing services which allow companies to buy storage and at the same time offer cyber security.
Upskilling in this area and becoming a Cloud Engineer could guarantee a great career anywhere in the developed world. This is because as we mentioned at the beginning, the pace of technological evolution is nothing short of rapid and the demand of skilled personnel with it. In a recent report in CloudTech computing news, “a gap in skills exists according to the 2020 Challenges in Cloud Transformation survey and 86% of its respondents, mostly corporations, are concerned it will slow them down.”
This signals that this IT talent is in short supply as demand for cloud has “shot through the roof since the beginning of the pandemic” according to a similar report from the Times of India. This means that if you could master Cloud skills, then you could be in good demand.
To become a Cloud Engineer (just to name a few) :
1. You need the right kind of Cloud certification.
For example, Simplilearn gives a free Certified Cloud Security Professional Course (CCSP)
2. Machine Learning and AI is part of this too using AWS and Azure.
3. Deployment and Migration across Multiple Platforms.
4. Database building skills, Data Analysis and Networking using Linux.
To get you started down this path, you should go online and learn all you can about AWS to begin with.
Once you have good handle go to:
There are some prior AWS requirements and the cost is only 100USD for the exam.
As the world spirals headlong deeper into a digital world, it needs digital workers to make sure things get done. Now that we’ve proven from the recent history of the changes that happened, you can now anticipate the changes to come and take meaningful action to secure your future employment.
To wrap up, here are the summarized points from the 4 Demanding Skills You Can Master to Stand out in the Marketplace highlighted above.
1) AI & Machine Learning
2) UI/UX Design
3) Digital Marketing – The most trendy way of promoting a brand or a product to the potential target customers via the internet these days!
4) Cloud Computing – The ability to store data over the internet as opposed to traditional means on your local hard drive.