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Broadening applied tech skills and why tech must “speak business”
Michael Page previously published a three-part series covering key drivers of change for technology in the APAC region.
In our research, one of the prominent trends was the growing requirement for the average employee to possess strong applied tech skills. At the same time, tech specialists need to sharpen their ability to “speak business” in order to truly deliver value for an organisation. This is particularly vital when communicating technology needs or implementing new platforms.
As automation and new digital tools become even more prevalent in offices around the world, average employees and experts alike will need to transform their approach to thrive in the future workplace.
In this article, we explore how the technology function is evolving in organisations and examine how Australian businesses are managing the change.
Broadening applied technology skills amongst the workforce
According to futurist author Alexandra Levit, job seekers and employees need to develop a strong working awareness of technology and its problem-solving scope — even if they’re not tech specialists. This insight is echoed in a recent study by Deloitte, which revealed that there’s a greater focus on investing in new technology across the board in Australian organisations.
But while investing in digital tools is essential, the study revealed that organisations must also invest in people and change management at the same time. This ensures teams have the right skills to utilise technology to its full potential.
A growing number of technology platforms emerge and integrate with day-to-day work. So it’s vital employees are familiar with these platforms and understand how to leverage them to improve processes, collaborate more effectively, or acquire essential business insights.
And while most employees won’t need to know how to code or run complex data analytics, there’s a growing challenge for employers to upskill and reskill the human workforce to improve their applied technology skills.
Companies such as ANZ are tackling the tech skills gap by implementing online learning platforms to equip employees with essential technology skills, such as data analytics. Meanwhile, Telstra has branched into vocational education and training services, in order to help build capabilities in the areas of machine learning, AI and cyber technology.
Other platforms, such as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and eLearning modules, are being used as a potential way to address the skills shortage amongst the existing workforce.
Why tech must speak business
Simultaneously, the role of tech specialist needs to shift into a business partnering role in the future. No longer limited to simply possessing technical excellence, specialists within any organisation need to improve their communications skills. This ensures they can effectively articulate the business value of technology and truly deliver impact.
Today’s CTOs are facing a similar challenge to CFOs. Tech leaders have an increasing responsibility to translate the complex and technical language of IT into one that resonates with the broader leadership team. In addition, they need to be able to identify business priorities and collaborate with key stakeholders to pinpoint the right technology strategies to propel business growth forward.
To bridge the two, Australian companies are creating new positions at the leadership level in order to address the communications gap. Virgin Australia introduced the new Chief Strategy and Technology Officer role to improve business integration and customer focus using technology.
But this isn’t just limited to communication and strategy with internal stakeholders. Software developers are also recognising the need for their teams to translate the technical benefits of their platform into business outcomes for their clients. For example, late last year, software company Citrix appointed a new field CTO and strategist to act as a technology evangelist for customers — a move that we will likely see more of in the future.
Regardless of the industry, technology skills are no longer seen as a specialised field.
In the future, technology skills and business skills will be one and the same — and ultimately, the companies that invest now will be best equipped to manage the change going forward.
Looking for a new job in tech? See our current opportunities here or get in touch with one of our specialist recruitment consultants.