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Siloes to Hybrid - The evolution of Technology Roles

Nadia Edwards-Dashti

As technology keeps moving forward so does our approach to solving problems. What has been fascinating about working in the technology industry for over a decade has included witnessing how technology has evolved. As a by-product of this evolution, it has become apparent how business attitudes have changed towards IT to lead to completely new roles. 

We have seen technological improvement increase in momentum, sometimes well over any law Moore stated 51 years ago. The changes have included the new challenges our modern day technologist faces within business. With so many tools at hand, with a plethora of uses for them we are finding that the best technologists out there are taking on more hybrid positions to close the gap between forever improving technology and forever demanding needs.

Some have been concerned by the new technology roles that have appeared, fearing that jobs will be replaced by automation. Within the world of specialist hiring, for technology teams in businesses we have seen that IT positions are becoming more about what a computer can’t bring and what a personality can. Pablo Picasso once said, in an age where the computers we work with today are totally unimaginable, “Computers are useless. They can only give you answers”. Even so, his point still rings true for me: as new IT positions emerge to solve the more complex problems we face, we could convince ourselves the right questions aren’t getting asked or we could look at the changes as ways of asking for more efficient and simpler solutions. 

Whether it be in our banks, ecommerce firms, retail businesses, the legal sector or the fintech industries, the focus should be on upskilling technology staff to be able to problem solve and provide better, faster and safer solutions. What has become apparent is that people are expected to have more scope and to fully utilise how they communicate their idea to business and technical people alike. The human behind the parts of the machine they control being paramount and human communication becoming king across all the new hybrid role we are witnessing. As the composer Libby Larson once said “The great myth of our times is that technology is communication” I see it as the person who builds that technology needing to ensure they use their communication skills to give that technology its full potential.

The hybrid roles we have seen most of have included the following:

UAT Testers, Automation Testers, Software Developers in Test 

The testing world has changed dramatically and we are now not only seeing developers who are taking on testing responsibilities, but seeing them move completely into the realm of testing at a highly technical level. Other testers have moved more toward the business and invested their ability to communicate constant improvement and change that will affect the wider business.

DevOps

There was a time where there were no DevOps people; delivery wasn’t automated and infrastructure wasn’t in tune with development. The DevOps culture and its new IT role within a businesses is a prime example of how it’s not just how technology has evolved at the speed Moore told us about, but in fact how we have responded to it to allow for the human element of communication to rule.

Analyst Programmers 

Coders no longer just follow tech specs handed to them by BAs or PMs. We are seeing more Analyst Programmers take control of projects, take specifications from users, complete full testing and take on projects through to release. A few years ago I knew the more communicative a developer was the more value he or she would demand in the marketplace. Now we find that most developers need to be able to communicate their ideas, their problem solving and their thought processes to those around them, as well as fully understand their contributions to the wider SDLC. The communication aspect has taken a step forward too and it has become the speaking, pitching, writing, drawing, emailing that programmers have upskilled themselves in. This is to allow them better communication methods to those in the technology teams and across the business they work in, from other teams to the stakeholders. 

Application Support/ Implementation Consultants

The job title “implementation consultant” has become yet another technical person who can talk, sell and persuade. Essentially communication has enabled technical staff to fully bespoke their solution for their clients. This has allowed for huge leaps forward in technology being far more aligned to business needs than ever before. As recruiters we hear far less about off the shelf unless it’s to be tailored by a technical consultant who understands from a business and technical point of view what their client needs.

PreSales Technical Specialists 

Presales isn’t necessarily new and is perhaps even the first and most dynamic of the hybrids. The more of these sales specialists we see is a step towards proving the hybrid technologist theory as we have witnessed technologists upskill themselves to become sales people and sales people upskill themselves to become technologists. The concept of selling a product or idea whilst having a thorough technical understanding of it is at the root of my hybrid theory and why I think we will see far more over the coming years.

In a world where uber doesn’t own any cars and amazon doesn’t own any shops (just yet) we have to prepare ourselves for big change in how we approach problem solving in technology teams. Perhaps technologies and methodologies won’t just evolve to solve problems in a faster, better and safer way, but instead we will see them completely redefined in their approach. What we are currently seeing in the AR and VR markets will completely revolutionise the way we all see the consumer market and have products sold to us. With this is mind I believe we have to let the human element of choice and communication prevail to allow for technology to truly be used at its best.

As the famous journalist Sydney Harris once said;

“The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but men will begin to think like computers”. 

If we keep on thinking and asking the right questions, more of these hybrid roles will exist and therefore the challenge to today’s technologists to constantly learn and upskill themselves. Our challenges as recruiters will be to identify these life changing roles and tell the right technologists about them.