In 10 Reasons to Develop Your Technical Skills, I explained why it’s important to develop your technical skills as an integral part of your personal development efforts. Strong technical skills can save you time, increase your income, and enable you to extract the most bang-per-buck from your technology purchases.
- 1 Project Management
Project management skills often appear in top 10 skills lists, perhaps because some organizations got their fingers burned in the 1990s through the poor implementation of IT projects such as enterprise resource planning initiatives. But even though the profession is mature (in IT terms), project managers still have work to do to advance their status within organizations. According to an article on the Project Management Institute Web site, project managers still have to develop their people skills, organizational leadership, and individual professionalism.
- 2 Information Security
It’s a never-ending game of cat and mouse for security professionals, and 2009 proved to be another fun-filled year. According to Symantec’s Security and Storage Trends to Watch report, the number of spam messages containing malware increased ninefold, to represent more than 2% of emails. Other criminals manipulated people’s love of social networking sites to launch attacks. Twitter, for example, spent much of 2009 battling DDoS and other attacks. Meanwhile, top headlines, such as the H1N1 flu and the death of Michael Jackson were used by criminals to lure people to download malware.
- 3 Network administration
Networking administration skills never lose their luster. It’s the second most sought-after skill in the Global Knowledge survey and it will be the top skill sought by CIOs in the first quarter of 2010, according to a survey of IT chiefs by Robert Half Technology. In 2010, organizations are expected to upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Windows 7 client and perhaps install Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010. Enterprises are going to need network administrators to ensure network traffic continues to move without a hitch.
- 4 Virtualization
- The projected cost savings and efficiencies are no-brainers for organizations seeking to implement virtualization and cloud computing. With the cloud computing space now taking shape, it’s difficult for enterprises to find pros with substantial relevant experience. Instead, companies are drawing expertise from a range of IT skill sets, including storage, networks, and desktop, according to a Network World article. Initially, companies will set up cross-functional teams to buy and implement virtualization. But eventually, cloud computing will be an expected skill set of system administrators. In a few years, it could even be a standard skill set of all IT pros because it touches different aspects of IT.
- 5 Business analyst
Business analysis roles were commonplace in many organizations in the 1990s when big projects, such as enterprise resource planning initiatives, required the critical thinking that business analysts could provide. But as businesses began moving at a faster pace, business analysis fell by the wayside. Factors such as the economic downturn and regulatory compliance have forced companies to take a step back and to think through business problems and their solutions. As a result, business analysis is making a comeback.
- 6 Business Process improvement
With project management and business analysis skills appearing in this list, it’s no surprise that business process improvement is also here. Business process improvement and business analysis go hand in hand. Business analysts identify areas for improvements to business processes, while business process improvement or management pros use BPM techniques and technologies to help companies optimize their business processes.
- 7 Web Development
If you are — or you have friends who are — addicted to the FarmVille game on Facebook, you know the power of Web development. In just a few short months, FarmVille’s popularity has spread across the globe, as Facebook fans tend to their farms and purchase virtual goods. The game, including others by FarmVille developer Zynga, has netted the startup more than 200 million monthly unique users for its online apps. One financial analyst reckons Zynga could be valued at $1 billion if it were to go IPO in mid-2010.
- 8 Database management
Databases are the hearts of key business systems that drive payroll, manufacturing, sales, transaction processing, and more. Programmers must be able to build programs that quickly and efficiently interface with the database management system (DBMS), while database administrators “must be able to bring the full power of database features to bear on business problems,” writes Oracle- and IBM-certified DBA Howard Fosdick in his whitepaper Database Skills Availability: Critical to Your Selection of Database. “DBA expertise can be the Achilles’ heel of database projects — many IT projects have failed due to the inability to secure DBA talent or successfully address DBA issues,” he adds.
- 9 Windows Administration
As mentioned earlier, Microsoft shops are expected to upgrade to Windows Server 2008 R2 and the Windows 7 client and perhaps install Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010 as well. Windows administration skills are going to be key for many enterprises implementing and maintaining existing and upgraded systems.
Microsoft Windows Server 2008 certifications at the MCTS level cover configurations for Active Directory, networking, and applications. Certifications available for the MCITP level are Server 2008 Server Administration, Enterprise Administration.
- 10 Desktop Administration
In Global Knowledge’s 2010 salary survey, desktop support was the 10th most sought-after skill this year. According to Robert Half Technology Executive Director Dave Willmer, businesses will need desktop support personnel to support new workers as organizations begin hiring once the economy improves. The introduction of Microsoft Windows 7 is also expected to generate additional interest.