Joe McKendrick| Forbes
It doesn’t matter if you are a technology wizard or a non-tech business professional. Cloud computing is impacting your job, and the ability to be savvy with cloud resources can mean career advancement. For business professionals, it means better understanding information technology. For IT professionals, it means better understanding the business.
There is a rising number of IT jobs that require the ability to either build or interface with cloud computing services and systems. One report estimates that only about five percent of the IT workforce is “cloud ready.” Whether or not this is accurate, it does point to a market that is accelerating faster than the skills available to keep up with it.
Emerging cloud jobs, identified in an article by Network World’s Christine Burns, include cloud software engineer; cloud sales executive; cloud engineer; cloud developer; cloud systems administrator; cloud consultant; cloud systems engineer; cloud network engineer; and cloud product manager. Those are just a few examples, and they are seen both in tech service providers, as well as end-user companies.
For designing the cloud computing-related jobs of today and tomorrow, there are certain qualities that should be written into every job description:
1. Innovation skills and vision. This is perhaps the most important, and the most overlooked. Cloud is more than simply a swap from an in-house computer to an outside service. It’s more than a monthly charge versus a capital investment. It represents a whole new way of doing business. An entrepreneur launching a new company needs to understand how to embrace cloud computing resources to launch and build his or her venture. A marketing manager can access resources and run simulations on cloud platforms to design and test new promotions. An IT manager can build hyper-flexibility into business technology, enabling the business to partner, merge and rapidly expand without being encumbered by system limits. An entire business can be built on the cloud.
2. Business communication, leadership and project management skills. A job description that calls for cloud proficiency also needs to establish the key reason for going to cloud in the first place: to improve the business. Cloud needs to be sold to the business, resources need to be marshaled, and support needs to brought in across the organization.
Here is how leadership skills are explained in one cloud-oriented job description: “Handles complex long-term focused projects involving multiple disciplines or business units. Provide leadership and direction to high priority or special projects undertaken by the business. area. Recommends to client and IT management appropriate technological alternatives. Evaluate new technological developments and evolving business requirements including distributed and/or client server systems. Provide high level specialized technical support and consultation to business and IT management. Act as the primary technical resource to client and IT staff in all phases of the development and implementation process.”
3. Vendor relationship and negotiating skills. Alas, as with anything the business world, business is business. Cloud and Software as a Service vendors need to stay in business, and are not likely to cut customers slack in many areas. As shown in a recent survey of cloud buyers, published in Stanford Technology Law Review, buyers need to be prepared to assert their organizations’ best interests on the questions of service interruptions, service-level agreements, data availability and physical location, and intellectual-property rights.
Vendor negotiating skills, as described in an online job listing: “Responsible for the negotiation, relationship management, tracking, troubleshooting and reporting of all technology related contract commitments mad within the enterprise systems information services department as well as various other departments. Track and monitor data necessary to ensure compliance to negotiated contracts on an ongoing basis and provide ad hoc reporting as required by enterprise systems. Provide and present ad hoc analyses such as contract terms, dollar spend, process compliance.” Interact and communicate with all levels of resources, both internal and external, in the technology acquisition process.”
4. Business architectural, analysis and planning skills. Cloud computing services shouldn’t spring up in a vacuum. In the long run, having a tangle of cloud services ordered without rhyme or reason off a thousand corporate credit cards ends up being far, far more expensive than the on-premises systems they are meant to replace. Call it a classic example of JBOCs architecture — or just a bunch of cloud services. The architecture that should be in place is based on enterprise and service-oriented architecture, in which IT and the business sit down together to plan out their requirements, and how technology purchases will fit into that road map.
Here is how cloud architectural skills are explained in one job description: “Leads in the development of the technical solution or offering, in translating the business needs into technical requirements, and is a key contributor in the value proposition and price-to-win strategy. Identifies gaps, strategic impacts, financial impacts and the risk profile in the technical solution or offering, and provides technical support.”
5. Technical proficiency. While this is the final category on the list, every manager or professional who consumes or delivers cloud services needs some level of technical savvy. Technical-level jobs require software engineering proficiency at developing cloud-ready applications, such as those built on open standards, network development and monitoring skills, and security skills.