IT Skills and the Future of Work: What Leaders Are Looking For

Abbott leaders share insight into emerging IT roles.

HIRE EXPERIENCE     |    Sep. 09, 2020

Advances in automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning have redefined traditional IT jobs and continue to shape new IT careers. The fast-paced world of technology has led to a career field filled with innovation and constant opportunities for learning and growth. And companies like Abbott are finding an ever-growing need for employees with emerging IT skills.

Let's look at what two Abbott leaders — director of digital and e-commerce solutions, Heather Alosaimi, and lead of digital transformation and experience, Rahul Avasthy — believe to be innovative factors within the industry, as well as what IT skills are most prominent as they relate to the future of work.

How IT Careers Are Evolving

While some companies are expanding automation or data science, others are moving quickly into more futuristic skills, such as AI and machine learning. Tools and techniques that evaluate vast amounts of data allow IT departments to better predict what products people may need from the organization.

Because of the rapid changes within IT, employees need to keep up-to-date on changing technology and be ready to adapt. Emerging technologies quickly shift roles that are in demand and what may be needed in the future. Alosaimi and Avasthy agree that curiosity and creativity are essential to adapting new technologies to the workplace.

"The landscape is always changing," Alosaimi said. "It's important to stay current, and be able to pick up new technologies."

Automation tools create some of the biggest changes in the future of workplace IT and roles continue to change and expand as technology shifts. This requires different skill sets, sometimes combining roles that were once separate. For example, an automation tester blends developer, tester and quality assurance.

Alosaimi and Avasthy also encourage knowledge sharing among IT colleagues, both within the same organization and outside. IT professionals should engage in continued learning, which they can do through training courses and discussing technology with fellow professionals. This sharing helps employees learn potential uses and applications for emerging technologies, bringing new ideas to the organization.

Most In-Demand IT Skills for the Future

No matter the IT role, developing soft skills as well as technical skills are important to thriving within the industry.

Soft Skills
At Abbott, IT leaders look for positive attitudes as much as technical skills.

"IT roles are hungry for different perspectives on things," Alosaimi said. "We need people who are curious and always learning — people willing to challenge the status quo to prevent the organization from getting stagnant."

With roles blurring and the need for innovative thinking, employees may come to the company through non-traditional paths. For example, Avasthy has a degree in computer science as well as an MBA, but before Abbott he worked on lifestyle and entertainment brands at a digital agency.

Alosaimi's team builds and supports Abbott's e-commerce sites around the world, as well as the hundreds of brand and affiliate sites that Abbott uses to connect with healthcare providers and consumers. Abbott offers products, from infant formulas to pacemakers, that improve people's lives at various stages. A strong digital presence helps Abbott reach and educate consumers, not only about the products available but also on how to use them.

To achieve Abbott's mission, Avasthy believes his team members need to be creative and empathetic to do well in IT. They also need to be trend spotters, watching for new technologies and ways to apply those technologies to solve problems within the company or fix pain points for customers.

Technical Skills
A positive attitude isn't the only piece of the puzzle. Avasthy listed some skills he expects will only become more important for IT careers in the future:

  • Agile methodologies in Scrum
  • Extreme programming skills
  • "R" language skills for AI
  • Machine learning skills
  • UX design skills
  • Design and development operations
  • Automation

An employee doesn't need to know every programming language or even one specific technology. What's more important is a willingness to learn, empathy, eagerness when using the next innovative tool and readiness to share that knowledge with the team.

"Because skills such as AI are so futuristic, you're often hiring on potential rather than what someone has done in the past," Avasthy said.

Innovative companies seek out passionate employees ready to use their skills, knowledge and creativity to move the company forward.