The 3 most important skills for IT professionals in 2024
The world is changing, and so are the skills and experience you need to succeed. Those who are digitally savvy will still have the edge in 2024, but what should you focus on if you want to rise above other IT professionals?
The trick is to spot tomorrow’s trends today. This will help you to steer your development in an interesting direction. For example, that extra course on mainframe maintenance is less future-proof than a refresher course on databases in a hybrid cloud environment. Which brings us to the first skill:
Find the value in data, wherever they are.
In 2024, everyone needs to know a little bit about data science. We can expect an explosion of new applications, thanks in part to low-code and no-code tools. Building applications will be easier than ever. The vast majority of these applications will have one purpose: to extract specific insights from data.
Whatever your role in your company’s IT department, data always need to be at the back of your mind. Unfortunately, that’s not the only place where data are kept. All too often, data remain locked away in silos, or exist in isolation in a hybrid multi-cloud environment. Be aware of this, and explore opportunities to connect data in your existing data environment. The truth is, you should become a bit of a data scientist yourself!
After all, all IT applications become smarter when they use the right data. These days, having a thorough understanding of databases – as well as new solutions that bring together data from different sources – is crucial.
Know what you need to secure
Security is hopefully already a top priority. Don’t be surprised if, in the coming year, management also starts to wake up to the role that security plays in the business. We have the upcoming introduction of NIS2 to thank for that. This European directive sets out a number of minimum security requirements and places responsibility at C-level. Although NIS2 will have less of an impact on smaller companies, the main requirements also apply to suppliers of large companies. So everyone will be affected to some extent or another.
So make sure you know the ins and outs of NIS2 and how it will affect your specific role within IT. Chances are that the IT department will have to take on the bulk of the NIS2 tasks again, and you may not be prepared for that. The key knowledge to acquire today is all about risk analysis and risk management. Where are the vulnerabilities in your company? Which systems are critical? And what will you do when something does go wrong?
Security is so much more than a firewall and is becoming a collective responsibility. Someone will have to take the lead. Having a background in IT, common sense and knowledge of the business are essential for performing mandatory risk assessments. If all this comes as a surprise, then it might be worth checking out one of the many NIS2 courses that are available today.
Let the computer help
We’re now in 2024, and the AI hype train has reached cruising speed. Which can only mean one thing: you need to get up to speed with AI. You don’t need to be able to train or tune models (although that’s certainly a valuable skill!), but you do need to know what AI can and cannot do today. Reinventing the wheel is of no use to anyone. AI models already do a pretty good job of helping you code simple tasks. Of course, you remain in control, but every line that is already written correctly saves you time, right?
But AI can do much more than that. Artificial intelligence and chatbots like ChatGPT can simplify a whole host of technical and less technical tasks – at least, if you ask the right questions… A generative AI tool reasons in a particular way, so the value of the answer largely depends on the quality of the question you ask. So, if there’s one skill that will gain in importance in the coming year, it’s prompt engineering: the art of speaking the chatbot’s language.
If nothing else, experiment with GPT-4 or Gemini to keep your knowledge of AI up to date. The most advanced models are behind a paywall, but the price of a subscription is not that high compared to the experience you are likely to gain. In a world where AI is becoming a game-changer, you don’t want your grasp of the technology to suddenly be several generations behind your neighbour’s.
So, there’s plenty to learn in the coming year, but those who really want to set themselves apart should focus on the following areas.
- Learn more about data, find ways to bring data together, and identify the value you can extract from it.
- Brush up on your security knowledge – and don’t forget the softer skills! Companies big and small will be on the look out for people who understand NIS2 and know exactly what needs to be done.
- AI is a useful colleague. Be aware of the things AI can and can’t do to help you be more productive, so you can focus on what’s important. Also, learn to talk to AI so you can squeeze more out of it than anyone else.
Other than that, there are always the mainstays of the IT domain: UI/UX development is still relevant, as is coding in Python and Java. And don’t forget SQL. These things might not be the new kids on the block, but the tips above will help you develop your skills in a way that is relevant to you in the coming year.
Do you excel in one or more of the above skills? Or do you have other valuable IT talents? Then CHRLY Belgium may be able to help you get where you want to go.