How IT Professionals Can Prepare for the Recovery Years

Image credit: iStockphoto/metamorworks

The massive role technology has played during the pandemic — from securing enterprises as app deployment races out to the edge to redesigning critical services in healthcare, banking, and more—can be attributed to the many IT heroes who prefer to stay behind the screens.

According to the SolarWinds IT Pro Day 2020 survey, 64% of IT professionals feel a new sense of confidence in managing unprecedented change and holding more sway at top decision-making tables despite facing challenges such as longer work hours, more responsibility, and decision-making. And as Singapore sets out on its recovery journey, along with the rest of Southeast Asia, there’s an opportunity for IT to establish even greater value and cement their position as indispensable experts within their organizations.

How Can IT Pros Retain Their Momentum?

To increase productivity and resilience in the long-term, Singaporean businesses have shifted into recovery mode and are ramping up their digital transformation processes. This is further supported by Randstad Singapore’s COVID-19 Employer Pulse Survey, where almost half of the employers in Singapore surveyed plan to increase investments in technology.

Beyond increased investments, many Singaporean firms are also looking to build their in-house IT teams, particularly in deep-tech areas such as development and engineering teams, cybersecurity, cloud, and data. Even traditional open-air hawker centers are going digital under a government-led unified payments system. In support of this, the government is also co-funding 80% of digitization expenses for businesses adopting artificial intelligence and data analytics.

To accommodate this sudden change of pace required post-pandemic, IT pros now have the responsibility to ensure digital moves and investments are done intelligently, strategically, and efficiently.

The same SolarWinds survey highlighted 31% of IT pros see a dire need to focus on streamlining processes such as technology deployment, optimizing their daily workloads, and upskilling. Besides establishing more precise lines of communication and streamlining technology deployment and onboarding, IT would also need to find ways to further optimize their daily workloads.

In other words, internal change is necessary to support the rapid digitization that would overtake most businesses.

Preparation is half the race won

Despite this, only 26% of surveyed IT pros stated it was necessary to learn new skills to support the business shift to remote work. As businesses rapidly transform with new innovations and technology, this percentage will only increase. IT pros and companies would be wise to begin their upskilling efforts to avoid getting left behind when the business starts to pick up and eventually accelerate.

However, only 47% have received the training support, and 25% have obtained the resources they need to upskill in areas like network management, cybersecurity, and hybrid IT monitoring. As organizations scramble to recuperate earnings while retaining their staff, learning budgets will become increasingly difficult to secure. Counterintuitively, this puts the health of their organization’s tech stack — and the value of IT pros — in a precarious position.

To mitigate this, IT pros have two options. Firstly, they should plan the trajectory of their education, with greater mindfulness towards possible role changes in the future. According to the recent SolarWinds IT Trends 2020 report, different IT roles will inevitably converge into new ones requiring hybrid skillsets and understanding digital solutions.

For example, according to LinkedIn, software engineers were the most in demand in Singapore between June and August, based on the proportion of hires with this job title. It also found amongst the top three most sought-after skills was the ability to use coding languages JavaScript or Java. However, soft skills are also necessary for IT professionals to collaborate and manage teams across a digital space.

Awareness is the best medicine

In support of these new employment trends, the Singapore government has announced all employers who send their workers for selected training programs can receive additional support from the SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) funding such as course fee subsidies and absentee payroll funding.

Secondly, IT pros can self-fund their education by purchasing online classes or signing up for vendor training sessions. Today many products include detailed training, often going beyond individual tools or tasks to provide perspective about overall solutions, operations, and business needs. Online communities, like THWACK®, should also be leveraged for this. Look for community size and openness to tap into an enclave of peers, vendor experts, and community contributors to ask questions, absorb best practices, and learn new skills.

By evaluating how their existing responsibilities will evolve in this new, uncertain tech landscape, IT pros can optimize their learning plan and ensure their valuable time isn’t spent gaining certifications with a limited lifespan. The newfound — and well-earned in 2020 — influence in decision-making within their organizations should help IT professionals drive conversations. Many organizations have discovered that even complex initiatives for digital transformation, culture change, correcting assumptions, or validating tech purchases are streamlined when IT and the business are in close communication.

The pandemic has again highlighted the adaptability, curiosity, and problem-solving capabilities of IT pros are more than sufficient to help them weather through just about anything, including 2020. In the coming years, IT pros will face all the new technology challenges the future routinely brings, but while being randomly shaken and stirred by existential forces. However, even if the next few years are as challenging as a year of pandemic ops, by upskilling in the cloud, hybrid, security, and related areas, IT pros won’t just survive the near term—they’ll blast a path for themselves and their organizations into the future.

Patrick Hubbard, Head Geek at SolarWinds, wrote this article.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HR&DigitalTrends. Image credit: iStockphoto/metamorworks