This year’s Cisco Live! was packed full of informative sessions, inspiring keynotes and tons of opportunities to network and collaborate with other attendees in San Diego.
Settling back into reality, I’ve finally had a chance to regain feeling in my feet and reflect on what made the greatest professional impact on me. The industry keynote “IoE and the IT Mindset Shift – The Evolution of the IT Career” strongly resonated with my career in the training industry, my passion for professional development and the technology trends on the horizon.
Rebecca Jacoby, senior vice president and chief information officer at Cisco, kicked off the keynote reporting on the buzz during breakout sessions, user group meet-ups and the Empowered Women event. The discussions consistently spoke to the evolving trend of market disrupters like cloud, DevOps and ubiquitous mobility – more devices, more places – and their relation to increasing a company’s market standings, managing security, workforce challenges and the need for quick adoption of emerging technologies.
So, with all this new tech, how do you prepare to always be ahead of the “bad guys” and enable your company to remain competitive, Jacoby asked.
Owning and driving the shift to the IoE
With the Internet of Everything (IoE) we need new tools, advanced techniques and professionally-developed individuals. As an unintended consequence of more devices and objects connected to the Web, IT professionals and providers have to manage and control more things, said Cynthia Stoddard, senior vice president and chief technology officer of customer solutions at NetApp.
As technology evolves and the importance of collaborating with other departments becomes more important, IT professionals must also evolve to fit these new norms and job roles. “Embrace the cloud on your own terms. Control your destiny,” she said. Stoddard continued that within a company moving towards new forms of IoE device management, IT transformation starts with people. People are the foundation for successfully adopted changes– you can’t discount the importance of employee buy in.
To prepare for the incoming technology transformations, like IoE, Stoddard recommends that you focus on:
- Developing soft skills.
- Building a network outside of your company.
- Creating relationships with coworkers in other departments to fully understand the business you’re supporting.
Increased expectations of what IT can do
Next up during the keynote was John Roese, senior vice president and chief technology officer at EMC Corporation who talked about the increased spotlight on IT departments. Those who take the leap to aggressively adopt an innovative business model and emerging technology will find themselves as game-changing industry disrupters. Think Uber, Tesla and Amazon, he said.
Organizations are relying on IT to transform their cloud capabilities to “predicatively spot new opportunities, deliver personal experiences, innovate in agile way, operate in real time and demonstrate transparency and trust,” Roese said. This shift puts pressure on IT professionals as business counterparts outside of technology assume IT is using cloud in a smart way, utilizing it to its fullest potential. Today, you’re not only expected to be an expert on building cloud, but also an expert on improving associated processes, he concluded.
To face these challenges head-on, Roese recommends becoming multi-faceted through:
- Building expertise as a technology advisor.
- Developing fluency in DevOps.
- Becoming a curious service evaluator.
Chief information officers will be expected to understand all data sets as a chief data officer, mitigate compliance issues as a chief auditor and become service brokers. He concluded that all IT professionals are now expected to continue their current IT activity, while also developing software and enabling the business to disrupt the market.
The hottest job role: Data Analytics
Concluding the keynote, Diane Bryant, senior vice-president and general manager, Data Center Group at Intel Corporation, discussed big data opportunities, its impact on IT professionals and the strong need for data scientists.
In today’s industry, intelligent data analytics is the next disrupter. Companies who use data purposely to transform and reap the benefits like lowered costs, increased revenue opportunities and greater corporate security, will find themselves on top, she said.
In the past fifty years, we’ve moved from mainframes to client-server, to mobile and now, in this cloud phase, we have the ultimate power of big data and analytics, Bryant said. She stressed the importance of big data analytics as a competitive differentiator. “Will you be a disrupter or be disrupted?” she asked.
Bryant shared three ways to intelligently use data and avoid “drowning in a data lake”:
- Look for quick and easy wins to optimize data like identifying underperforming products with specific demographics.
- Optimize business processes – Intel alerts sales professionals of real time up-sale and cross-sale opportunities.
- Analytics driven operations – Intel collects data through internal sources, past purchases and third party websites identifies potential customers in targeted industries.
Most companies are finding themselves stuck with skills gaps between traditional business intelligence and big data. To employ professionals that bridge the gap, hiring managers will place their focus on first attracting, then continuously training and retaining these data gurus with departmental funding, organizational visibility, and compensation and rewards.
For professionals looking to develop themselves within the data field, Bryant suggests, not looking at the ways it’s been done in the past, but looking into the future and becoming aware of upcoming trends.
What’s next for IT professionals?
Rebecca Jacoby signed off the keynote with her belief that we need to focus on how we think about managing people and how we develop our skills to enhance our careers. The future of the network includes data, communications, software applications and updated process management meaningfully paired with micro services and combined with larger solutions that transform a company’s marketplace standing. To meet these changing needs and be the disrupter, IT professionals need to be in the center of change and prepare for the evolution.
Are you ready?