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February 4, 2021

IT Careers – Then, Now and The Future

It has been just over 50 years since the information technology age began. But in that time, a lot has changed. We are yet again on the brink of witnessing another upheaval in the IT career industry. So, as a tech student, what can you do to equip yourself? Information is key. Know where you stand, with regards to your skill set, by learning more about the evolution of IT careers, the current essential requirements to succeed and the disruptive tech skills to qualify for the future.

Information technology or IT as we know it today emerged in the 1960s as high-speed computers, the first mainframes, were developed. The term itself was coined by a Harvard Business Review article to define the technology as it applied to medium-size and large business firms, which relied on it to process large amounts of data or compute problems using mathematical information. Even before it was invented, IT was predicted to soon also consist of computer programs to make management easier.  

Democratizing Technology

The earlier mainframes were centralized, but it was the minicomputers that decentralized computing, bringing about another shift. The first affordable personal computer was introduced in the 1970s and by 1978, HCL had launched India’s first in-house designed microcomputer at the same time as Apple. But it was the open architecture of IBM PCs that pushed open the doors for innovation. Prices became more affordable and multiple software tools were developed for productivity, such as spreadsheets, word processing and data management. Word processing jobs replaced typist ones, while new jobs were created in the role of electronic tech and design engineers. A need was felt to allow multiple users the access to the same data at concurrent times. PCs were linked via a Local Area Network (LAN) to a server computer. Thus emerged the client-server model, which is still relevant to network computing today. A communication model, known as the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP, was developed to set standards for the transmission of data between multiple networks. It was the movement of software to the ‘web’ and the offering of storage and computational solutions over the Internet that led to the rise of cloud computing as we know it today. HCL was one of the first Indian companies that started India’s outsourcing boom by allowing foreign companies to shift their work to offsite locations in India. It opened up new career options for engineers, firstly by creating an indigenous networking OS and a client server architecture, secondly, by pioneering remote infrastructure management and currently, through its JVs and acquisitions that has allowed it to expand into different markets.

Tech-disruptive skills of the future

The future of technology is poised to be disruptive. Today, every emerging job, even the service-oriented one, requires basic tech skills and digital literacy. Even jobs in sales and marketing will require ‘tech baseline skills’, data analysis and an understanding of AI, as it becomes pervasive on every front. According to the World Economic Forum’s Jobs of Tomorrow report, tech disruptive skills will see a rising demand in the future. This includes automation, cyber security, cloud computing and natural language processing to name a few. Along with this, soft skills like communication, problem-solving and leadership will be required across all professions as they reflect “the continuing importance of human interaction in the new economy”. Jobs in the future will require a broad variety of skills to match these professional opportunities. Apart from specialized industry skills, you will need to have disruptive technical skills, soft skills and management skills. 

To prepare for opportunities in the market, tech students and graduates will have to work on these skill sets. Job-oriented training programs, like HCL First Careers for graduates seeking careers in tech and IT services, are instrumental in providing the technical, practical and soft skills that will aid your career. By understanding the inroads made by technology in the past and what the future looks like, tech students will be better prepared to ensure that their skills are saleable in the labor market.

Shiva Prasad
about author

Shiva Prasad has over 20 years of Global IT experience in technology and leadership roles across various geos. He is currently a Global Operations Director, HCL Technologies and Center Head of HCL Vijayawada. Shiva is strategic thinker with strong business & technology acumen and has a proven record of leading large IT businesses successfully. He also has an approved (granted) patent on “Location based search services". He can be reached at Shiva Prasad, PMP .

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