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Tips to upskill in IT

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Tips to upskill in IT

Many have joked that the moment you buy an iPhone, an Android tablet or even the latest laptop, it is immediately considered outdated technology. It’s not far from the truth given how quickly technology evolves today.

Fortunately, Apple has realized that it’s okay to not put out a new redesign every two years, yet the company still intends to make “subtle improvements” to their existing phone designs.

Information technology professionals are not unlike today’s technology. Business and technology are moving at unprecedented speeds, and it can be difficult to keep up with all the evolving software, hardware and resources available to IT pros. If they are not constantly improving and looking for ways to “upgrade” their skillsets, they too may be considered outdated and be replaced with the latest model.

For some IT professionals who are promoted to management roles, they have competing demands and cannot always continue to learn or effectively stay on top of trends. As a result, the IT knowledge they bring to the table can be out-of-date, and they are likely not on top of the latest industry trends and systems.

So how bad is it?

  • A 2014 survey of 249 CIOs and IT directors by executive recruiter Greythorn com found that 41 per cent believe skill shortages in IT will directly impact their business this year, while 38 percent said it will impact project delivery.
  • According to a 2015 Gartner report, 42 per cent of CIOs believe their IT organization lacks the key skills and capabilities necessary to respond to a complex digital business landscape.
  • “CIOs have big concerns around the talent to execute on (needed) renovations, especially when it comes to agile skills such as digital design, data science, “digital anthropology,” SMB/startup engagement and agile development: 43% said improvements were needed, with 39% saying IT could use a major talent overhaul.”

This blog gives five tips for how IT professionals and teams can stay up to date so that they can take advantage of opportunities to better themselves and their businesses.

1. Share knowledge

No doubt there are people within your IT organization that are stronger at some things than others. You may have a software developer whose strengths are different than another person on your team. One of the easiest ways to increase your team’s collective strength and skillsets is to encourage team members to share their knowledge. This can be done informally through one-on-one conversations or in team lunches or training sessions. What’s important is that everyone is contributing to the overall strength of the team by sharing his or her skills and knowledge.

2. Listen and watch

The internet is filled with opportunities to sharpen existing skills or learn about the latest IT trends, many of them free. Podcasts and video training opportunities on YouTube provide quick and easy ways to learn about everything from new software development tools to security standards. Software developers and hardware manufacturers also offer a variety of webinars and video tutorials to help their customers better understand their products and services. To help your team, start to curate the content in a centrally located database so that other team members can benefit from the learning experiences. They can then quickly access the training during their free time.

3. Live training

In addition to training opportunities offered online, you can also take advantage of live, in-person training sessions from specialized training companies, technology resellers and distributors, service providers and product manufacturers. These sessions can provide more interactivity allowing for immediate Q&As and responses to questions or concerns.

4. Read and research

One way IT professionals can upskill is by reading the latest blogs (such as the Phocas blog), and industry information from G2Crowd, BARC and Gartner, which can lead to increased knowledge about the latest systems, emerging technologies and best practices. G2Crowd and BARC provide product and service reviews from actual users. Since 2013, Phocas has consistently ranked highly in BI software at G2Crowd and when compared against other tools in the annual BARC BI survey.

5. Advanced training

There are significant benefits to sending your IT team members where the training is taking place, whether at a user group meeting, a technology conference, or even a college or university. Giving your team the opportunity to attend the offsite and advanced training opportunities will demonstrate your commitment to their careers and professional development, while strengthening your company’s knowledge base.

IT is an evolving discipline that requires an ongoing investment to stay current with the latest tools and trends. For IT professionals, using the above tips can keep your skills sharp while making you more valuable to your company and/or to future employers.

For more information on how IT professionals can stay ahead, click the button below to download our Reporting Systems eBook. Learn how you can introduce IT systems that enable your business to stay profitable and competitive.

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