Tuesday, 03 December 2019 19:08

2020 from an IT learning perspective: what’s in store?

Jon Lang, CEO of DDLS:

As Australia’s largest provider of corporate IT and process training, DDLS represents a good barometer of what’s happening in the IT industry. If we see strong demand for training in a particular skill or product, you can be pretty sure a skill shortage will soon emerge. And if we’re not seeing demand for training in a particular product or technology, it’s likely on its way to becoming legacy or the market is saturated with skilled people.

If you want to predict the future, it’s helpful to look to the past. So, drawing on what we’ve seen in the past year or so, and what we are seeing today, here are some predictions for 2020.

1) Cloud will bring new challenges

We expect the use of cloud to continue growing. As more workloads and services move to the cloud managing the services themselves and the expanded enterprise IT ecosystem, they create will become more challenging, and more critical, in 2020.

And the major cloud vendors – AWS. Microsoft, IBM, Google — are significantly extending the capabilities of their offerings, with tools for artificial intelligence and machine learning, for example. This will boost demand for the skills needed to exploit these capabilities.

2) Demand for service delivery skills will grow

Today organisations have services running in the cloud, on desktops, on mobile phones. Managing all that technology as a single entity presents a huge challenge.

As a result, we expect to see significant demand for service management and service delivery skills in 2020. DDLS’s best-selling course in 2019 was in ITIL 4, a course on driving efficiencies through service delivery.

ITIL, formerly an acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a set of detailed practices for IT service management that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of business.

3) Uptake of advanced cloud capabilities

Secondly, as the scope of cloud services increases, along with the ability to scale up rapidly on demand, we expect organisations at the leading edge to leverage these capabilities to increase efficiency and increase competitive advantage.

These cloud capabilities — particularly artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning — will increase demand for business analysts with the skills to exploit them and the business knowledge to apply them effectively. So, in 2020 we’re expecting demand for training in these tools to ramp up significantly.

Aside from new sophisticated cloud offerings like AI, in 2020 we expect to see strong growth of in-house application development using agile methodologies and tools like low-code and no-code app development.

These tools are enabling organisations that a few years ago would never have dreamt of developing their own applications to do so for functions that contribute to efficiency.

In 2020 we expect to see, increasingly, new applications being developed in-house that would never have been contemplated previously, because they would have been far too expensive.

4) Vendors will boost awareness of capabilities

The growth of cloud means technology is available to any small business that was the preserve of huge organisations two or three years ago, but awareness of its potential remains low. A lot of businesses are likely to miss out.

In 2020, expect to see the software vendors behind these cloud-based tools doing more to raise awareness of the potential of their products, particularly by investing heavily in conferences.

5) It’s all about cloud usage

For the big cloud vendors usage is the name of the game and while uptake of functionality like AI and app development will boost usage, in 2020 we expect to see every cloud vendor driving consumption through whatever way it can, and that could make for some unlikely bedfellows.

Microsoft and AWS compete very strongly in cloud services, but Microsoft has just announced new capabilities in security information and event management. Now businesses can more easily monitor their cloud infrastructure, including Azure and AWS through a single pane of glass.

Also Microsoft has announced a strategic agreement with SAP, which competes with some Microsoft products. However, SAP on Azure will drive consumption of Azure, which is a win for Microsoft.

6) Cloud will bring more security challenges

In 2019, DDLS saw huge growth in our cybersecurity training, and it’s a safe bet that in 2020 there will be more organisations suffering from cyber-attacks than in 2019.

The more reliant businesses become on services hosted in the cloud, the more they allow remote access, the more collaborative tools they implement, the higher the risk of suffering a cybersecurity incident, and as their dependence on cloud services grows, the more damaging attacks are likely to be.

There is clearly growing demand for cloud cybersecurity expertise, but we’re hoping rather than predicting that organisations will increase their investment in cybersecurity training, that they will train staff in ethical hacking and harden their businesses.

We’re seeing signs ‘cybersecurity fatigue’. According to Cisco’s 2019 Asia Pacific CISO Benchmark Study, security teams have become overwhelmed by the amount of security alerts they receive and are constantly putting out fires, rather than proactively building an effective security strategy.

Cisco singled out Australia, saying: “the main callout is that organisations are suffering immensely from cybersecurity fatigue (Australia 65 percent vs global 30 percent).”

And Cisco also found Australian organisations hosting more of their networks in the cloud than any other country surveyed.

7) A greater focus on risk and compliance

We also expect organisations to put greater emphasis on risk and compliance, in all their manifestations. We offer training in these disciplines and we’ve seen demand ramp up significantly during 2019.

One source of increasing risk is having multiple vendors. Gone are the days when a company would buy servers from a hardware supplier, and software licences from a software house.

8) Growing focus on vendor management

Organisations also have to deal with multiple cloud suppliers, as well as suppliers of in-house software and hardware, and each additional supplier adds to risk.

So, we expect vendor management to become increasingly important in 2020. One sign of this: our forthcoming course in vendor management is full.

We also expect vendor certification to become more important in 2020. Vendors are tasking us with getting a healthy number of people certified and into the market in a way they never did before. However, they are moving away from product-based certification to role-based certification: certified cloud administrator or certified security administrator, for example.

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