Top 10 skills for a digital world

As digital disruption takes hold of every industry and individual, there is an emerging set of skill sets that just about everyone would have to learn, adopt, and adapt. Below is a list of top skills to learn for a digital world.

#1. Lean Startup: It is by now a cult. Knowing and adopting principles of being lean, acting like a startup, and the mindset to make a leap of faith assumption, getting to a minimum viable product (MVP), to learn, pivot, and persevere accordingly. Along with it came newer tools like business model canvas, lean canvas, innovation accounting and much more. Getting well versed with the toolset and mindset will help foster speed, propensity to fail fast/learn fast, and overall product/business management for a new world.

#2. Agile: A software development methodology but can be applied to various projects in which there is focus on creating customer stories (end-goal/requirements), iterating through them through a cross-functional (sometimes self-forming) and lean teams that collaborate and iterate through these customer stories in short sprints. It provides way to iterate a solution with a continuous feedback loop. If Lean Startup is all about business/product management, agile is about getting the work done. They complement each other.

#3. Design Thinking: In this articleJoe Gebbia – designer, co-founder, and chief product officer of AirBnB  talks about why designers need to become patients to develop better products. It beautifully encapsulates the need to think like a customer. The approach is soaked in building a higher-purpose, solving a customer problem by envisioning it from a customers point of view. It typically involves creating personas of customers, iterating the problem through their headset, and building the customer stories which can then be built using an Agile approach. In this process, you may end up making certain leap of faith (with Lean Startup). Given that it is relentlessly focused on helping build customer-empathy, the leap of faith tend to get closer to solving a problem.

#4. Agile Product Management: Increasingly, the products are becoming complex and are at the intersection of ecosystems. It requires assembling cross-functional teams that need to work collaboratively to design and build products. In many ways, a product manager becomes a key role because he/she is carrying the mantle of building the product. The Product Manager would be responsible for applying business/domain context, customer-centricity, project resource management, as well as the above principles to bring the product to market.

#5. Business Model Innovation with ISMAIC: Intelligence, Social, Mobile, Analytics, IoT, and Cloud (ISMAIC) are all shaping the way companies do business. While no-stack companies like Uber and AirBnB rake up “crazy” valuations, companies like Facebook/Google are creating what once were unconceivable products, Platforms like iOS are literally “owning” people’s lives. Companies like Samsung and Apple live in a complex symbiotic relationship. They compete and cooperate in different market segments. Knowing about these ISMAIC technologies, newer business models and digitalizing the business is key. This is also a tad tricky since it is a creative process.

#6. Big Data: No discussion now a days is ever complete without someone saying Big Data and some times using it interchangeably with data science. In reality, this is such a vast field that you could be someone who needs to know data 101 – gathering, manipulating, visualizing, and presenting to asking the right questions, conducting extensive trend analysis, hypothesis, and a lot more. It is about making data driven business decisions.

#7. Data Science: Not to be confused with Big Data, Data Science is all about converting data into actionable knowledge. It ranges from knowing about tools like NoSQL/MongoDB, making sense of structured and unstructured data, running rigorous time series, trend analysis, regression models, statistical interference, machine learning and a lot more. It is a brand new domain of its own.

#8. Coding Literacy: Yeah and many people say that it is not necessary. However, having coding literacy, using the problem solving techniques taught by coding, and being able to apply it day-to-day is definitely a competitive advantage. Pick a programming language, database, and learn foundational concepts would go a long way in the immediate future.

#9. Domain Expertise: Digital is typically technology application in a domain. Continuing to build that deep domain expertise is a true differentiator. For example, if someone provided mounds of big data around financial sector and if the “scientist” cannot totally understand the data it makes efficiency that much more difficult. Building reasonable expertise in certain domains would provide both depth, breadth, and ability to adapt/adopt various environments.

#10. Staying ahead: Disruption isn’t ending. Neurotech, Driverless Cars, Robotics, Nano Technology, Additive Manufacturing, and a lot more newer technologies are continuing to emerge. Start ups and Entrepreneurs are risking their lives on newer businesses. This could be as simple as continuing to track trends and their applicability to the domain.

The above mentioned 10 skills are just a start. Each area, domain is so-deep that each one of us would have to build a certain level of breadth and pick a few areas to go deep in it. It is time to re-tool oneself for the future. Are there other skills that you deem are important? Let me know via the comments box and I will republish an updated post.

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