Sep 25 2015

How Cloud Changes the Role of IT Staff

Learn what areas workers must be adept in to navigate this shift.

As organizations send systems and services to the cloud, the computing model has transformed IT and business. One result of that development: IT workers must shift roles and responsibilities while honing new skills.

“Cloud is making business more agile and employees more productive and changing the way IT functions on a daily basis,” says Agatha Poon, research manager for global cloud computing at 451 Research. “Technology professionals now must possess a strong understanding of the organization for multiple reasons, including the ability to do more with Big Data and analytics, as well as to communicate with end users and vendors.”

In the age of the cloud, hiring managers are seeking a mix of technical and soft skills. It’s not enough to be proficient with speeds and feeds. What follows are five subjects successful IT professionals should master.

1. Data

As the proliferation of sensors, Big Data and analytics continues, the ability to perform data analysis is becoming incredibly important. Reed says organizations will seek strong mathematical and analytical skills and “talent who will be able to cull through large amounts of data and make sound recommendations based on their findings.”

Wikibon Senior Analyst Stuart Miniman says that IT also must be able to help the organization find and manage all their data sources because it may not be aware of all of them, and also may not understand data integration or how this can affect the enterprise. To navigate this field, many organizations are tapping data scientists or consulting services.

2. Service-Level Agreements

As shadow IT has demonstrated, if you don’t give users what they want, they’ll find it elsewhere. Users want services and technologies that work without going down or impeding progress. Creating service-level agreements that meet users’ needs and communicating what they can expect makes them less likely to be disappointed and more likely to be patient when something goes awry, Poon says.

3. Vendor Relations

Because many of the services IT will be using are outsourced or outside the confines of their organizations, it will be imperative for staff to learn how to work well with vendors and other service providers, advises Miniman. “Vendors can be internal or external,” he explains. “The speed of change is so fast that you need to have a mindset and the ability to work with them as partners.”

4. Business Lingo

451 Research’s Poon says that it will be important for IT staff to work directly with business units to understand their needs and figure out how to meet them. “Understand the transformational journey that’s going on in the organization and find the solutions that can support that journey,” she says.

This may require staff to be constantly learning not just the technologies but also the business terms and soft skills that can bridge the two.

5. Cross-Training

In the old IT world, everyone had a role: storage administrator, security expert, network administrator. Today, says Miniman, IT workers must be willing and able to take on tasks and projects that straddle multiple worlds and technologies.

“Automation is going to take care of a lot of the technical parts, so IT is going to have to retrain, shift to other tasks and do those projects that maybe they’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have time to do because they were too busy chasing basic configurations and constantly tweaking settings.”

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