IT talent: The Most important Skill To Develop in 2021 Is DevOps
This year pushed us to look at one major shift. Our new world order of business has found that DevOps was the critical component to digital transformation.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
We may not want to admit this but many of us (myself included) are guilty of not doing something important unless we’re forced to do it. We push off those health goals until we get an unusual test result from the doctor or finally head to the dentist when our molar aches. In the same vein, like we want to keep our bodies healthy, business leaders have the same goal of keeping their business evolving as time progresses, with the help of digital transformation. Yet, before COVID, some digital transformation strategies were reserved for the backburner or moonshots.
Up until this year, the world hasn’t changed the way we work in this magnitude, forcing us to work in a dominantly remote way. The inability to travel and lack of physical access to people has pushed us to embrace the digital methods we knew we had to have in our arsenal for the past decade.
Businesses were forced to pivot, supply chains were fragmented, companies needed to engage with customers in new ways, collaboration systems and strategies were implemented for the first time—for a fully remote workforce. This year pushed us to look at one major shift. Our new world order of business has found that DevOps was the critical component to digital transformation.
In order for this skill to continue to prove its worth in 2021 and beyond, a marriage needs to happen between the skill, the technologies, and the organizational structure.
According to a survey of more than 1,200 managers and developers from the DevOps Institute, the DevOps transformation journey is a difficult feat for more than half of respondents. According to the report’s authors, “Managing the people, processes and technologies associated with and necessary for a DevOps transformation are all difficult.”
The “DevOps human” combines people, process, and technology skills. CIOs, CTOs, and other tech execs should ensure they are integrating these aspects in mind as they upskill current employees or when they are looking for new hires.
Technology and communication skills are a must for DevOps roles. Look out for people who know how to work with teams—rather than a strong individual contributor—and who are proactively involved in improving the company’s development and innovation efforts. I like to think that the best DevOps professionals can see the 10,000 feet overview. They’re like birds who can hover over and understand projects going on, see the bigger picture, team goals and, if needed, can swoop down and act fast when needed.
According to IDC analyst Jim Mercer, “Prior to COVID-19, DevOps professionals were in strong demand. In the midst of the crisis, DevOps professionals are still in strong demand, but the demand for effective remote working and coding, automation, and SRE skills is higher given the 'new normal.'”
Keep an eye on the pulse. Now that you’re forced to think about it, you’re forced to understand how to manage it. In keeping up with the health analogy from earlier, you’re forced to think about how to manage it. If you are diagnosed with a disease you need to have the right technology to ensure that you are managing your circumstance.
As time passes, technology gets better and allows you to live a more streamlined life. Medical device innovation is a great example of this. Not only is it important to have the skills but we need to understand how it’s faring by measurable tracking or dashboards. Determine how to measure ROI and use your technologies to work for you—use them to help you determine if all is on track and, when and if needed, shift your processes. Value stream management has shown that it can help identify the key bottlenecks in a business process. We’re expecting to see it more into the next year and beyond, helping businesses determine the value of software development delivery resources and efforts.
In her book, "Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts." by Brené Brown, she quotes Minouche Shafik, director at London School of Economics, on the evolution of our society’s focus on how we work. He said, “In the past, jobs were about muscles, now they’re about brains, but in the future, they’ll be about the heart.”
This is a great reminder to focus on organizational design and how people best work together while blending the skills and technologies. If it doesn’t work well together, the system will fail. Determine if your organizational design is a reflection of the work that needs to get done. Yes, you need the people who have relevant DevOps skills, dashboards and metrics, and how you’re tracking it all. But what does your organization look like? How are teams communicating? It’s all about creating a DevOps-centric organization to drive innovation.
According to Niladri Choudhuri, who wrote an analysis of the DevOps Institute’s Upskilling 2020: Enterprise DevOps Skills Report, the sum is greater than its parts: “I have seen many organizations failing with their DevOps implementations over the last couple of years as they looked at only the automation element without giving due consideration to the other four core DevOps values (Culture, Lean, Measurement, and Sharing). Some have received some automation benefits but not the outcome they expected, while others made it worse by doing it wrong.”
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.