How to reinvent your tech skills for the new year

Every year, experts, news sources and blog posts – just like this one – will tell you that this year is going to be very different, especially when it comes to enterprise technologies. After all, between the cloud, mobility, big data and the Internet of Things, you’re bound to encounter new tech in the office, and as an IT professional, the onus will likely fall on you to help implement those systems, deploy those tools, leverage those platforms or manage those devices at some point in 2016.

Therefore, you must invest in professional development as soon as possible. You need to reinvent your tech skills for the next year, and you have to be able to stay on top on what’s next. You can even make it your New Year’s resolution. Here’s how.

Visit conferences
The tech world has more conferences than you could possibly count in a variety of specific sectors and certain verticals. These will be very valuable if you hope to network in 2016, but there is also a lot that you can learn at events that cover the cutting edge of technologies themselves and the business strategies driving their adoption. You can also check out a wide array of tools and solutions while visiting enterprise IT conferences, which helps you make more informed decisions when procuring those systems or similar products in the future.

While the ship has probably sailed on attending the Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas this year, CIO contributor Ed Murray compiled a list of IT industry events through September – notable inclusions being Future Insights Live, MIT Sloan CIO Symposium and the Hosting + Cloud Transformation Summit. Of course, there are plenty more conferences out there that deserve your attention.

Check out some expos in your local area, or make a trip out of travelling to one.
Expos in your local areas

Check out some expos in your local area, or make a trip out of traveling to one.

Find some blogs
Whether you’re a social media influencer or avoid Twitter like the plague, there will be a blog for you. These free resources help you stay up to date on industry news, hip to the latest tech trends across sectors and knowledgeable about the most recent version updates. Here are just a few that you should definitely have saved in favorites:

ZDNet: This website has been around for decades for a reason, and it’s highly trusted as a source for any tech news.
CIO: From IT staffing news to analysis of the hottest tech topics, CIO has you covered.
Ars Technica: For everything technology-related, check out Ars. It’s got consumer tech, enterprise IT and a wide range of industry news topics.
Krebs on Security: Brian Krebs is the de facto cybersecurity social influencer.
Forrester: Similar to Gartner, Forrester provides blog posts about the latest enterprise IT trends, including both data and analytical articles.

This is a small smattering of what’s available out there, but these blogs are easy entry points if you don’t want to get bogged down in specific technologies.

Earn a certification
When is the last time you’ve taken a class or course to polish your skills? In this industry, even three months is a long time. There is always something new to learn or innovate within your specific sector, and there are an equal number of tech talents that you could invest in to expand your expertise. Additionally, nowadays, there are so many options for education. You can attend courses at a local university or college, sign up for online classes, purchase books and other reading materials or find a mentor that understands your field better.

The good news is that if your start looking at professional development via certifications now – at the beginning of January – you will definitely get a slot. That said, you’d better act fast, as deadlines for spring courses will probably close soon.

Get some soft skills
A recent blog post from Diginomica’s Jon Reed raised an important point about modern IT professionals and how they must develop their skills to align with what’s expected in 2016. Reed asserted that specialization with respect to a specific technology can hinder career advancement. Instead, you should connect your tech skills with business ones, especially in regard to a certain industry, Reed wrote.

“Understand ‘the bigger picture’ behind your practice.”

In other words, you cannot simply advertise yourself as a developer with technical proficiency in Java and similar languages. You need to market your ability to understand developing exceptional software, from how processes are managed to what makes an interface intuitive. Reed called it “the bigger picture” behind the practice.

Have fun
In 2016, there are a lot of new and interesting technologies hitting the market: wearables, virtual reality, augmented reality, the IoT and much more. Take some time to check out these gadgets and get inspired. The next big enterprise IT trend is around the corner, and the best way to reinvent your tech skills in 2016 is to consider yourself more of an innovator.

It might be hard to keep a New Year’s resolution, but when it’s this easy to stay on the cutting edge of enterprise IT, why not?

How to reinvent your tech skills for the new year
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