What is the new technology wave? If we call the Internet 1.0 and basic eCommerce as the first wave and Cloud Computing and Big Data as the second wave, then the current trend, characterized by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G is the wave defining the future . These technologies collectively promise to be more ubiquitous across every industry as we already have experienced organizations are capitalizing these technologies and pushing for competitive advantages.
IT infrastructure is considered as the backbone of any technology solutions or the essential plumbing. During the first wave, we installed servers, storage and network equipment in data centers, configured them, and then managed the operation and performance monitoring via different tools. Most applications would not be possible until the infrastructure was implemented. In this context, IT infrastructure and business outcome (applications or services) is a one-dimension relationship. Just to reflect this linearity, there are Subject Matter Expertise (SMEs) for each domain. The SMEs rigorously follow their disciplines and rarely cross the boundaries.
The birth of cloud computing as the cornerstone of second technology wave bifurcated the role of IT infrastructure. With everything as a service model (XaaS), business applications can be delivered without the same weight of dependencies on infrastructure. IT infrastructure entered a two-dimensional journey: business can request a service to IT as they were in the past, but they have another option. In responding to the change, new infrastructure technology stacks, such as Software Defined data center, were developed. As for talents, we created new set of job descriptions that differ from the previous generation: Site Reliability Engineer, Cloud Architect, Business Automation Engineer, etc. These talents are no longer singular experts, rather they are more versatile in both technical and business skills and no longer bound by technology silos.
"How do we prepare talents with the third wave? It depends on what we are looking for in the business value chain: surviving or leading"
How do we prepare talents with the third wave? It depends on what we are looking for in the business value chain: surviving or leading. On one side, we may be fooled by an illusion that IT infrastructure is reducing its relevance as each technology wave push down the priority on the values chain. The reality we see, however, is a unique opportunity for us to thrive.
Over last two decades, the knowledge we gained lays the foundation for success in the new era. For example, we delivered many infrastructure automation projects. While representing distinct values, as automation is a process designed with known knowledge and AI is about the unknown, automation is a critical building block for AI. As another example, connecting everything in IoT with machine network requires similar mindset in building data network in terms of integrity, confidentiality and availability. We have adequate know-how to elevate to the next level in this regard.
But this is not enough. We must point out that challenges ahead. The third technology wave presents an unprecedent complexity. They are far more than technical problems. Unknown is the new known fact. Business has much higher expectation from IT infrastructure. They need more than a technical design. They need business solutions with maximum values.
Therefore, the new wave calls for one more dimension on the talents of future: a skill that can strategically offer business solutions by leveraging AI-era technologies. Together, these three pillars of talent attributes will sustain the impact of new wave: profound technical skills, horizontal cross-domain knowledge and deeply embedded business acumen.