Weathering the storm: skills support for a sunny future in the cloud

Greg Hanson, vice-president of EMEA at Informatica, on the data-driven roles that are critical to the workplace

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), by 2025, we will create an extra 463 exabytes of data each day globally. For those struggling to picture what an exabyte looks like, the WEF explains that this is the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day, so still pretty hard to fathom.

Whilst data literacy is on track to be a fundamental skill needed to operate in the modern working world, it’s surprising to hear that there’s still a shortage of support placed on developing such expertise.

Prioritising data-driven roles

COVID-19 has emphasised our reliance on cloud technology to operate in the ongoing – and potential future – pandemic. Not only this, but it has led to businesses questioning what the future of work looks like. This means that businesses are left with no choice but to adopt cloud technology. In fact, at our recent Informatica virtual event series, we discussed how 83% of enterprise workloads were expected to be in the cloud by 2020, with 75% of all databases deployed or migrated to a cloud platform by 2022, highlighting the importance of equipping young people with the relevant skills to work with cloud technology.

Yet, findings from a recent global survey of chief data officers (CDOs) we conducted found that 62% of organisations surveyed still believe cloud to be a significant challenge, with half of respondents struggling with some of the basics – including cloud data warehouse and data lake ingestion, data quality and data governance. There’s clearly work to be done in preparing for a future in the cloud.

The digital generation

Whilst today’s young people are perfectly primed for a career in tech, having grown up surrounded by social media, online education resources and the world of mobile, we still need to show them that technology is more than just a tool for their personal lives. It’s important to demonstrate that working with cloud technology is an actual career path, and not just a place used to store photos from mobile phones.

“It’s important to demonstrate that working with cloud technology is an actual career path, and not just a place used to store photos from mobile phones”

Companies looking to recruit the best talent in this field first need to conduct ongoing skills-mapping sessions to understand the roles that need filling. By identifying the existing skills gap within the organisation, you can then develop specialist and targeted training programmes for existing and new staff. Entry level training programmes are vital for giving leaders of the future a grounding in the basics.

The term ‘cloud specialist’ refers to more than someone who simply monitors and manages data in the cloud. For example, you need cybersecurity experts and data regulation experts to help manage the cloud. This is because many data protection responsibilities can’t be renounced to the external provider.

As the data sprawl grows with organisations adopting multiple cloud environments, businesses are scouring a small talent pool for data governance specialists who can help them track existing data. A truly data-driven company understands that having employees capable of spotting risks associated with where data resides – whilst deploying artificial intelligence (AI) to adopt new roles to secure it within the cloud environments – is vital.

Ten years on, the world of work will look different to the one we know today. Businesses must act now if they want to ensure that our future technology leaders have an all-round skill set; this means skills in security, regulation and compliance, data governance and data engineering. To truly democratise data, we need to start widening the talent pool with entry level, comprehensive training programmes and show young people that the future is in the cloud.

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