5 tech skills everyone should develop

Below we outline five tech skills individuals should develop to help them stay current and relevant in the workplace.

Yesterday, 9 April, tech news feeds were abuzz with the announcement by LinkedIn that had purchased Lynda.com. Lynda.com is a well-respected online education platform that has been around since the mid-1990s, and offers thousands of video courses on business, software, technology and design in English, French, German and Spanish (Source: Lynda.com).

LinkedIn is perhaps the world’s largest professional network, with over 347 million users (Source: LinkedIn). According to a blog post on the Lynda.com acquisition by Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn’s Head of Content Products:

I believe we can make it even easier for professionals around the world to accelerate their careers and realize their potential through the learning and development of new skills…

(Source: LinkedIn)

The acquisition of Lynda.com by LinkedIn could be considered a natural progression of the latter’s efforts to deepen and broaden its influence in the professional development space, by integrating education – the ability for persons to upgrade their skills – into its existing network. In today’s world, there is increasing pressure for individuals to ensure that their skills are relevant to the job market, as many industries and their associated work environments, are experiencing continual change and development. Technology, especially ICT, has been one of the most dynamic areas in the workplace, with new products, services and technologies being released with greater frequency.

Although each industry or job position may have a list of unique skills individuals ought to focus to remain competitive and cutting edge, below are some common tech skills for which – regardless of whether you are an employee or working on your own – and at the very least, some proficiency should be developed.

1. Coding

While you might not have any plans to change careers and become a software developer, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the rudiments of programing, and perhaps learn one or two languages. Which languages you chose could depend on your field of work, and what might make you more marketable. For example, some popular software applications, such as those in the Microsoft Office suite (Excel and Access especially), are used superficially by most individuals. They are quite sophisticated tools that allow for fully customised outputs, if one is able to develop macros and code.

2. Cloud computing

The popularity of cloud computing has not yet abated since it began to gain prominence around five years ago. However, as more products, services and applications move to the cloud – are delivered over the Internet – we might not yet have fully experienced what cloud computing has to offer. It is thus in this regard that you ought to become more knowledgeable about cloud computing: the pro and cons, and how best to use it to suit your personal needs, and that of your organisation.

3. Big data

Similar to cloud computing, and noting the increasing amounts of data that is being generated from innumerable sources, the skills to process and analyse all of that data is in demand. Currently, there are already reports that demand for those skills outstrip supply. Hence we can all benefit from learning more about big data, along with its implications to their personal and professional lives. Depending on your area of work, learning the rudiments of data collection, processing and analytics (at the very least) could be a strategic move, to ensure you are in a position to participate in and contribute to discussions on this subject.

4. Mobile

Although all of us might have a mobile or portable device, developing knowledge and skills on this subject would help us to move beyond being just a user of a device, and see the bigger picture. From a work perspective, is there an appreciation of the role of mobile devices in an organisation; among its employees; and among its customers? Has the organisation (or even a particular department) developed a mobile strategy? Can the organisation better use mobile to generate revenue? Being able to answer those and other such questions would help you to think more strategically about mobile, make you even more valuable in the workplace.

5. Social media

Again, and similar to mobile and portable devices, virtually all of us are a member of at least one social network. However, beyond keeping in touch with friends and family, and sharing snippets of our lives with those on our networks, there is considerable scope to think critically about social media: its role in persons’ lives, and the trends that have been emerging. In addition to learning more about social media, generally, and perhaps specific one or two specific platforms of interest, it would also be important to develop an appreciation of social media analytics, in order to better assess campaigns that are being proposed and the success so those that have been implemented.


Image credit:  London Permaculture (flickr)


1 Comment

  • With particular reference to Coding and Cloud Computing, from the surface this looks like a tall order: “this is stuff for the sharp techies and geeks”.

    But the fact is that today’s work office is no longer that of pen and paper or lever arch folders and flip-charts. Gaining a bit of a deeper understanding of the technical side does go a long way in making our work more comprehensible to others.

    How you present data and information in different views can be key to communicating or driving home, say, a presentation. A deeper appreciation of the various tools for the purpose is always helpful.

    What I would hasten to add is also that many of these technical tools and applications can be learned with little or no assistance from another person. The “help” functions and other interactive guides are, in many instances, more than sufficient to set one on the road.

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