December 4, 2019 • Henry Thedieck
Are You Ready for 2020? 4 Tech Trends and the Skills That Will Advance Your Career
Technology is always changing. In fact, the evolution of technology year after year might be the only topic we can count on to remain consistent. While changing technology can be beneficial for businesses in many ways, the constant progression of tech is challenging for IT professionals who face a continuing pressure to keep up with new and emerging tech trends and skills. In 2019 alone, we witnessed the growth of AI in the workplace, increasing awareness of blockchain and its impact on information security, and renewed interest in business intelligence thanks to the growth of data.
Now, with the new year quickly approaching and the holidays right around the corner, we thought it would be a good time to pause, check in on the tech trends likely to dominate in the coming year, and review the skills you’ll need to know to get ahead of 2020’s tech trends.
Trend #1: Hyperautomation and Machine Learning
According to a recent Gartner report on the top strategic technology trends for 2020, hyperautomation will have an outsized impact in the coming year. Until now, the focus of businesses across industries was automation. Automation is generally understood as the application of technology to perform essential tasks that used to be done by humans. Hyperautomation takes this even further by using a combination of machine learning, packaged software, and automation tools. Exploring how various automations can be combined and coordinated is the main goal of hyperautomation.
From a tech skills perspective, you can prepare for a hyperautomated future by focusing on developing your knowledge of machine learning. Known as the scientific study of algorithms and statistical models, machine learning is used by computer systems to perform tasks by relying on patterns and inferences, instead of specific instructions. Considered a part of artificial intelligence, machine learning was including in CNBC’s list of popular tech skills for 2020, just a few places behind Python, the most useful programming language to learn if you’re interested in working with AI.
Trend #2: Distributed Cloud and Blockchain
A new era in cloud computing is on the horizon. Until now, most cloud strategies focused on a centralized model where data was synced and stored on a primary cloud server. Migrating applications and legacy systems to the cloud has allowed businesses to transform and gain competitive advantages. As a result, many companies have adopted a cloud-first strategy when it comes to IT spending decisions. However, these centralized systems are not without their shortcomings, including a loss of control, single point of failure issues, and unexpected expenses. The move to a distributed cloud is a response to these challenges. With a distributed cloud, public cloud services are stored in different locations with the cloud provider assuming operation, governance and update responsibilities.
In terms of tech skills, one of the most popular cloud computing platforms is Amazon Web Services (AWS), so knowledge of this platform as well as other common cloud systems will be essential. Likewise, to understand the move to distributed cloud services, consider taking a course on blockchain. Blockchain’s decentralized nature and elimination of central points of failure make it the ideal system for hosting distributed cloud services.
Trend #3: Edge Computing and Cybersecurity
At its most basic, edge computing is a distributed computing concept that brings data collection, processing, and delivery closer to the sources where it is needed. Driven by the increasing popularity of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, edge computing improves response times and saves bandwidth by keeping traffic and processing local. In 2020, edge computing will become more empowered thanks to specialized computing resources and data storage improvements. With complex edge and IoT devices like drones, robots, and autonomous vehicles relying on edge computing, this technology is likely to grow across industries and applications.
Along with the growth in edge computing will come the need for advanced cybersecurity and tech talent with the skills to protect these edge nodes and data in transit. Companies focused on IoT implementations often prioritize connectivity, making sure all the ‘things’ that make up an IoT network are talking to each other. Security is, unfortunately, an afterthought. As complex edge devices become common, there will be more space for IT security experts on edge computing teams.
Trend #4: Tech Transparency and Artificial Intelligence
There have been many benefits to the continuing growth and evolution of technology. However, some of these benefits are offset by the increasing challenge of securing and managing consumers’ personal data. As governments and individuals have become more aware of the value of their personal information, they have also become more concerned with data protection and privacy. Incidents like big data breaches have caused a decline of trust in digital institutions and technologies, leading consumers to demand more control over their information as a result. Discussions around digital ethics, privacy, and regulatory requirements are likely to grow in 2020, and many innovative and growing technologies could be impacted.
One area likely to be affected by new regulatory requirements and discussions of ethics is artificial intelligence. AI is changing the nature of work across every industry in many positive and innovative ways, so learning AI skills through online courses or bootcamps will be beneficial no matter what field or role you find yourself in. But along with these specific skills, an understanding of data privacy rules, ownership and ethical uses of AI will become increasingly relevant. Courses and initiatives on ethics and technology already exist, so get a head start on the competition and advance your tech career in 2020.
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