The COVID-19 pandemic has so far been the ultimate litmus test for businesses. Aside from challenging our resilience and agility, it has also been an unexpected opportunity to put many theories and preconceived ideas, from remote working to remote hiring, to the test. Enabling these so-called tests in these trying times, however, is technology. Just as we entered the pandemic with a high demand for tech-related talent, the demand will likely remain once business recovery kicks into high gear for the rest of 2020 and beyond. 

As such, here are the essential skills in tech to hire for in 2020.

1. Cross-team cooperation

As COVID-19 has proven, many modern technologies have made it easier than ever to communicate and collaborate. But it is important for those developing these types of tools to not forget the key principles of successful communication themselves. Sustainable collaboration is a key driver for successful stakeholder management. With technology being a core component for most organisations and professionals, the requirement to communicate across a wide range of business functions, and persuade and translate technical solutions, is vital. In the current climate, possessing an emotional quotient — a method of measuring someone's emotional intelligence through testing — is ever more important.

2. Information security

Information security is a key business risk driver, from large enterprise clients to SMEs, resulting in high demand for talent in the area. The three security pillars of utilisation, flow, and storage of security require a specialist skill set to cope with the growing threats of external breaches, such as vulnerability scanning, IoT-centric breaches, CaaS, and potential insider threats. Those who possess talents in these areas will continue to be highly coveted by top employers.        

3. People management

With tech organisations often comprising individuals with strengths in different areas, strong people management skills remain a must-have and are necessary for the smooth running of an efficient and inclusive approach to technology strategy. The ability to apply the correct leadership style to a diverse and collaborative workforce to help empower employees, steer productivity and promote growth, within organisations, is a sought-after skill. This is especially true within dynamic working environments, where managers must deploy a range of communication methods to stay on top of progress.

4. Data privacy

One of the most common security breaches at the workplace is retaining data substantially longer than necessary, although there is a range of ways companies can put themselves at risk of a substantial fine. Customers want better protection of their personal data. Hence, data protection expertise and the need for top talent to possess commercial privacy awareness is now becoming a requirement across a variety of tech roles.

5. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) seemed like science fiction only a few years ago, but is now increasingly being implemented across a range of organisations. We are in the midst of a global AI arms race, with top tech firms around the world competing to create the best applications of the technology. This, in turn, is creating a huge demand for talent in this area, with machine learning, data science, and data mining among the most sought after skills. With the adoption of the technology only set to accelerate over the coming years, there has never been a better time to be armed with AI skills.

6. Commercial leadership

Commentators have suggested that IT leaders need the four Cs: to be curious, competitive, coachable, and composed. Ultimately, though, they are required to bring their leadership skills into a product-centric operating model. The challenges and routine financial pressures faced means that they are expected to consider potential avenues of investment without committing to the business’ return. Decisions like those require a great deal of judgement and leading the commercialisation of these business opportunities in the digital world has become a much sought-after and needed skill.

7. Data analysis and insight

Big data has continued to spread into all industries, helping to shape and inform strategies across the board. From complex geological data, to deep-learning AI systems, a more sophisticated set of data skills are required for businesses seeking to fill their job roles. While businesses across APAC are looking at ways to review existing platforms, tools and strengthen the relationship with suppliers to maximise their effective use of data, the quality of data is also becoming a key essential. 

8. Agile mindset

From its origins in software development back in 2001, Agile has proliferated far wider into the broader business world. Since then, organisations and teams have trialled, embraced, interpreted, and embedded the philosophy and ways of working in varying measures. Almost 20 years on, the 12 principles of agile working remain important for organisations around the world. As a result, the majority of employees are looking for professionals who have an agile mindset so they can adapt and thrive in the increasingly fast-paced and changing world.

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