We often hear that the world is rapidly turning digital. Today, your phone is not just an instrument to make and receive phone calls – it is a veritable computer managing emails, data communication and even photos for you. Transport too has been revolutionized, with your friendly neighbourhood taxi-wallah making way for apps like Uber that are at your beck and call 24×7. This is just the current wave of digitalization. Other fast-emerging technologies such as Robotics and Internet of Things (think home automation) promise to further automate manual tasks, while others such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will provide non-human intelligence to make things even more intuitive.
The promise of technology also means the promise of careers in technology. With so much opportunity for creating devices and services of the future, what are the hottest technology careers in today’s world, and what are the skills you need to get into those careers? Let’s take a closer look.
Data Scientist: At first glance, it may seem like a data scientist would be working on mathematical and statistical models more than on technology. Think about analyzing millions of data points, slicing and dicing them along multiple dimensions and extracting hidden patterns from them, and the need for computing and programming will become immediately clear. Data scientists are today not just employed by analytics firms or technology companies, but also by financial services firms, healthcare firms and even conglomerates. In 2019, Forbes had listed the role of a data scientist at the top of the most in-demand roles in America for the 4th year running.
Getting into a data science career will require you to have strong mathematics and statistics skills. A background in science and engineering helps, though it is not a necessity. Programming expertise in R, Python, SQL and Hadoop is often needed. An ability to work with machine learning tools and algorithms is increasingly an asset.
Product Manager: Increasingly, technology-integrated firms — like large e-commerce players, technology majors, banks and even media organizations — have started looking for a single product manager who would be able to perform tasks that were earlier bifurcated and managed by various teams like marketing, customer management and operations. These product managers act like they own the product they manage, and that’s because they do! From creating the initial product roadmap to overseeing development teams and managing customer demand, features, sales strategy and even pricing and profit and loss accounts, product managers do a lot.
Product management roles usually require both a technology and a business background (preferably with a major in marketing), though some people can score this role without a formal business degree too. An understanding of technology tools and processes, project management methodologies and marketing processes can help.
Cloud Architect: So much of the technology that we use today is cloud-based. When watching movies on Netflix, for example, you are accessing a digital copy of that movie stored in a remote server. Your mobile or TV is the front-end platform on which you are viewing the movie, while the server is the back-end platform. In between, there is a cloud delivery and networking layer that brings the data to you.
These systems are designed by cloud architects who determine the cost- and time-efficient methods to access data remotely. After all, you would need a very different setup to access the huge volumes of information that a Netflix movie involves, rather than the few megabytes at most that exchanging messages on a cloud-based app such as Telegram does.
To get into a career as a cloud architect, you would need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or computer engineering. A master’s degree can be an advantage, especially if you take multiple courses in cloud computing that may not be available at the bachelor’s level. You can also bolster your credentials by taking online courses related to cloud computing on platforms such as EdX and Coursera. Knowledge of or certificates in popular cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud are important. Finally, a good understanding of enterprise technology, such as network systems and databases, will be pivotal in helping you get the role.
DevOps Engineer: Most people have heard of software engineers, but few outside the technology industry have heard of DevOps engineers. The term almost makes them sound like special operations military specialists!
Breaking up the term, it is a set of practices that allow Development (Dev) and IT Operations (Ops) to work together in developing, testing, deploying and updating software faster and more reliably. By its nature, it is a cross-functional methodology. DevOps engineers, therefore, work with both the development team and the IT deployment team.
To make it to a DevOps engineer role, you would need at least some experience across the software development life cycle, including an understanding of the coding, testing, version control and security aspects. Familiarity with DevOps tools such as Git/Github, Puppet, Ansible and Chef are further advantages.
These are only some of the possible roles that the technology boom is creating demand for today. There are others too that we will cover in subsequent articles. The key to success as a technologist in today’s world is to gain a broad and deep understanding of technology first and then combine it with specialization in an emerging area, along with some experience. With that skill-set, even the sky (or the ‘cloud’) is not the limit.