Perspectives from ISB

Written by Astha Sharma, Senior Manager, ISB-Centre for Business Markets
Inspired by “5 skills experts say workers should master right now” by Abigail Hess, Published in CNBC Make It on June 9, 2020

The Covid-19 crisis did not only introduce the world to “lockdown.” It brought the economies of economically powerful countries to a standstill. As the lockdown ends in many countries, the impact of the pandemic on the demand and supply is becoming more evident. With organisations looking to cut costs and preserve cash, a lot of professionals are finding themselves out of jobs. For some professionals, this might mean reskilling themselves to enter into a new line of work. The list of skills compiled by CNBC that experts expect will be in demand for a long time in the future are presented in the following.

1. Data Science: Data Science is an important interdisciplinary field today. People who study Data Science are called Data Scientists. These people have gained expertise in using scientific methods, processes, algorithms, and systems to extract knowledge and insights from large volumes of structured and unstructured data. With the advent of the Internet, there has been an enormous increase in the data generated every year. As per the International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide new data that will be generated annually will grow 61% to 175 Zettabyte (ZB) by 2025. (For the benefit of our readers, 1 ZB = 1 trillion gigabytes.) With so much data generated, organisations must be able to differentiate and understand the relevant data and generate insights from the data that can enable them to stay ahead of competition. The professionals with expertise in Data Science are of great value to the organisations. As this is field is still evolving, the number of people truly trained in this field is relatively low, providing massive opportunity to the early birds who master this field.

2.Communication: Apart from the technical skills of data science, people will need to hone their communication skills. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of organisations have asked their employees to work from home. While working from home may mean just change in location for professionals in some fields, for people working in Sales and Marketing, the way of working itself has changed. People now need to connect with their customers using online tools. The trust and relationship that used to be built through face-to-face meetings will now be made and reinforced through a computer screen. Empathy and active listening have become more essential skills now. Managers will need to learn emotionally intelligent communication techniques to be effective in managing teams remotely.

3.Creativity: As the process-driven jobs are increasingly getting automated, organisations are looking for professionals who can solve problems creatively. The LinkedIn learning blog, “Why Creativity is the Most Important Skill in the World,” has divided creativity into two parts: Innovation and Relevancy. While relevancy means finding a solution to an actual problem, innovation refers to the originality of ideas for solving the problem. So far, creativity was considered a nice-to-have soft skill for people in technical jobs and a requirement only for the jobs in the area of art. However, with the increasing complexity in the digital world, professionals across the spectrum including software coders, salespeople and CEOs need to put on the creative hat to solve new problems every day.

4.Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI has been used extensively to automate some of the mundane tasks in the manufacturing sector. AI has delivered some of the cutting edge innovations in diverse fields like automotive, healthcare, etc. According to “The Future of Jobs Report 2018,” published by World Economic Forum, “75 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines. 133 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms.”
Senior professionals in the field of AI research and development feel that there is a shortage of talented engineers in this field. Professionals looking to reskill themselves must consider this field as an important option for reskilling themselves, as the demand for the professionals in AI has more than doubled in the last few years and is likely to continue to grow rapidly.

5.Cybersecurity: While most developed countries have created a cashless payment infrastructure primarily based on the use of credit cards, Asian countries like India, China, and Eastern European countries are steadily moving towards cashless transactions, more so because of the pervasiveness of the mobile technologies. Such cashless transactions are always at risk of online fraud, information theft, or virus attack. Cybersecurity is the most critical challenge faced by the stakeholders in the digital payments ecosystem. However, this is not the only area that needs experts to implement cybersecurity.
The Maze Ransomware attack on Cognizant systems in April 2020, disrupted services to clients and employees of Cognizant. The industry experts expected Cognizant’s Q2 revenues to be negatively impacted due to this attack. Another known example of the cyberattacks during this pandemic is an attack on the video conferencing application, Zoom. While the users of Zoom had to face the loss of privacy and data, the company lost its reputation across the world. Zoom has since then released critical updates, but users are still not too sure about using Zoom. As the world moves towards more digital interfaces, cybersecurity continues to remain vitally important for organisations. Professionals willing to take up challenging roles in the coming years should consider educating themselves in this field.

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