We live in a world where information technology powers almost everything we do. Our lives are practically dictated by our smartphones, and thanks to these devices, ‘iphonography’ is now a thing and we can even keep track of our health using apps and wearable technology like fitbits. However information technology is really shaking up a number of sectors with once manual jobs now going digital. With so much changing within the workforce, it’s worth exploring how things are changing when it comes to the journey into the sector and what’s next for an industry that never stops evolving.
Are information technology degrees worth it?
One would think that going into a fast-paced industry would require a strong working knowledge that you can only get from university – but you would be wrong. According to a number of professionals, a degree in information technology is not the be all and end all of securing a position.
In a 2016 JustIt article, Daniel Gelernter, an app CEO told Fortune Magazine that it’s not necessary to have a degree and even went so far as to explain why he wouldn’t hire a computer science graduate for his development company.
He said, ‘The thing I don’t look for in a developer is a degree in Computer Science. The departments are in a miserable shape; they are 10 years behind in a field that changes every 10 minutes. They prepare students for academic or research careers and spurn jobs that actually pay money. They teach students how to design an operating system, but not how to work with a real, live development team.’
As strong as these opinions are, they aren’t without any truth to them. James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO at Mason Frank International, which recruits salesforce staff, said, ‘In the UK, 25% of programmers and developers do not hold a degree. Degrees often provide a strong base to begin your career but ultimately, experience is your greatest weapon, especially in the tech sector. Courses, on the job training, and online resources are widely accepted within digital industries.’
How is information technology changing the world?
According to Chris Windley, Head of Business Development at Spectrum Telecoms, IT is having an impact on important social sectors like education and healthcare.
He said, ‘These sectors are embracing all the new technologies very quickly now. Cloud adoption is high. Online training and education using voice and video apps are a high growth area.’
This is particularly apparent in the classroom where techniques like ‘flipping the classroom’ has taken shape. This is where students are set tasks outside of their class –this could be reading or watching videos relating to a module. They then participate in what is known as ‘active learning’ where they engage with the material inside of their class. This is done through discussions or activities. Technology has enabled teachers to not spend as much time in class teaching material, but rather ensuring that students develop an understanding through engaging means.
Healthcare is also reaping benefits of information technology not just in the advancements of treating people but in the way that hospitals function.
Both here in the UK and even in the US hospitals are pushed to their limits and as expansions occur to accommodate more people, staff are pushed to the brink. A good example of this is in Dallas where one hospital has adopted what is known as desktop virtualization.
In a SearchHealthIT article, Matthew Kull, the CIO of the same Dallas hospital, Parkland Health & Hospital said that, ‘We needed to come up with an alert management and a desktop management environment that would allow our users to move freely about such a large work area and make sure that they were in constant contact with the patient, with the patient's needs and with the patient's monitor.’
The solution involves doctors and nurses who comes into the hospital for work in the morning going to a computer and tapping their badge on a sensor. The one-time login prompt means they enter their credentials, a session is then created and stays active for the next 24 hours.
If they find themselves moving to another workstation, they simply tap their badge, go to their next designated workstation, tap their badge again and they can resume working from the same desktop they left.
Understanding how best to integrate information technology is essentially transforming the way people deliver to clients and consumers.
Where is information technology going in the future?
There are a number of emerging trends to keep your eyes on – some of which are taking shape and moving into the consumer space as we speak. The internet of things and smart home tech are prime examples of this.
Amazon Echo, which acts as a central interface for controlling your home better, the Belkin WeMo Insight Switch allows you to control the amount of power that you use around your home. But what else is on the horizon?
‘Digital careers are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy. We expect more and more technology job creation so it’s crucial we develop further initiatives in education to encourage more STEM graduates. Additionally, we hope to see more opportunities for adult training. This is something Salesforce is already excelling at,’ Llyod-Townshend explained.
The success of Pokemon Go also signalled that consumers were ready for augmented reality and so it will be interesting to see how this develops across different sectors in the coming years. According to Forbes, we’ll ‘need to be ready for AR and VR versions of practically everything—and ample marketing opportunities to follow.’
In terms of jobs, ComputerWorld predicts that programming and application development will be in high demand. A forecast survey found that 35% of respondents who had hiring plans said they would be seeking people with this skill in the next year. Likewise, help desk and technical support jobs will also see an increase in demand as the same percentage plan to hire people with these skills.
IT continues to evolve and of course staying up to date on the latest trends is paramount if you are to succeed within this sector. Why not start upskilling now with an IT course and stay that one step ahead.