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Becoming Future-Ready By Mainstreaming The Right Technology Skills

Jayanta Banerjee, Group CIO, Tata Steel

Jayanta has been with Tatas for almost twenty seven years and has lead businesses, sales, delivery, operations and IT/ digital globally.

One of the better outcomes of the pandemic has been the greater appreciation of the role of technology in our lives and how with the support of technology we managed to maintain some semblance of normalcy during the past 10 months. The compulsion to work from home pushed millions across the world to rely on basic technology skills to continue doing their job with little or no interruption. With multiple IT tools and software at your disposal, the key would be to learn how to apply the correct technology to solve critical business problems. Simple DIY tools and software will be more prevalent and would seek dominance over complex technical tools which require expert guidance for usage. With digital adoption on the rise and end customer reachability catching up, digital aggregators, providing an array of standard or customized services for the end consumer will play an important role going forward.

What we experienced during the pandemic also in many ways accelerated our dependence on technology. A large part of daily life shifted to a more virtual world such as online school and colleges, increase in online commerce largely fuelled by groceries and food deliveries etc. With customers moving to the virtual world more traditional businesses like kirana stores and heavy industries (capital goods) too have now a digital front for their businesses. Living under the lockdown also helped us realise the potential of digital healthcare where medical consultations can continue online. We have already witnessed the significance of digital tools in our daily lives and it will only have incremental impact going forward, but in order to create a differentiating factor for organisations, the key would be master the ability to choose and make the right investments in technology. Business leaders and CIOs in particular, have a significant role to play where they will have to create a clear road map to leverage the return on investments and to ably use their skilled talent.

The digital transformation impacting all walks of life also means that we will have to create a new skills ecosystem to meet this new demand. By some estimates these unlocking of the digital economy could create up to 65 million new jobs by 2025. It would be paramount to have a macro and core understanding of the latest in technology. Artificial Intelligence is gaining semblance and looks to be ready to evolve further into mainstream usage. Having your business servers and storages on cloud already looks like a thing of the past as cloud native architecture gains further steam. A deep understanding of evolving technologies such as blockchain, edge, networking option, sensors etc. will be critical as they gain more focus and business usage. Staying current and relevant is very important. Skills that were once niche are becoming mainstream and more importantly the shelf-life of these skills are much shorter and therefore need constant upgrading. The fact is technological learning and upgrading of skills will be a continuous process in 2021 as it was before and during the pandemic and among these few IT skills will remain crucial in the coming years.

With the new normal setting in and most of the workforce working from home, IT landscape is susceptible to the ever-rising cyber-attacks. This is a real concern not just because of the typical business vulnerabilities, a successful infiltration from a cybercriminal could shut down a plant's operations or start making equipment produce faulty products without the knowledge of managers, among other things. Business leaders not only have to invest in secure products but people who have the skill to anticipate and identify such threats and act with agility to protect the organisation from unforeseen cyber-attacks. We believe, both ethical hackers and traditional cyber security specialists with expertise in Security Information & Event Management, Security Orchestration, Automation and Response, Cloud Access Security Broker etc. will have a role to play.

The digital transformation impacting all walks of life also means that we will have to create a new skills ecosystem to meet this new demand

Data is one of the most critical aspects in today’s business environment and thus, ensuring its correct usage becomes paramount. More and more companies are aspiring to enable swift & remote decision making. Data capture, its storage and judicial usage in carrying out data analysis for gaining accurate business insights is paramount to succeeding in the new normal. It is important to have a robust IT Infrastructure to generate incremental amounts of data and use it such that a single version of truth prevails for everyone in the organisation.

Identifying the right kind of skills is one thing, but building an ecosystem that produces a large pool of skilled workforce is a much bigger challenge. The significance of this is not lost on today’s business leaders. For example, we are seeing a sizable growth in resources allocated to build the right skills within large and small organisations across all sectors. Training and retraining of the workforce are also getting the necessary support within the HR function. The importance of industry-academia collaboration to sustain the flow of skilled workforce is also getting mainstreamed which is vital to ensure we wedge the demand-supply gap in quick time. We already know that the technology workforce is moving from backseat to the front seat in almost every sector. Acknowledging and investing in this shift is going to make all the difference in 2021 and beyond.

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