3 Skill Sets That Will Be Even More Important in the Future Workplace

July 14, 2016
Archived, Productivity

Which skill sets will be most important in the workplace of the near future? Whether you’re looking ahead to a career change or want to progress in your current field, success in a rapidly evolving environment relies on your ability to enhance your skill set.

There are hundreds of job skill sets currently required in the workplace.

Great writers are needed more than ever by companies to produce compelling content.

Developers in diverse coding languages from C++ to PHP and Ruby are in demand.

Mobile-specialized IT Administrators are needed to keep up with support requirements for an increasingly mobile workforce.

All of these skill sets are currently being utilized by people who developed the skills required for today’s workplace.

What professional skill sets could we acquire now for tomorrow’s workplace?

While we can never be 100% sure what the future will hold, we can make a few data­based predictions.

Skill Set #1 – Working with Data

Skill sets working with data

The workplace is filling up with more data than ever before.

By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the knowledge of how to use big data to make key business decisions.

And 36% of hiring managers say they’ll be hiring people who can deal with big data.

So, while data can be great, it can also be overwhelming ­ and completely useless if no one has the skills to make use of it.

Ability to Analyze Data

The ability to engage with complex data sets and, more importantly, to correctly analyze the data will be crucial for all kinds of decisions made throughout companies.

This is because the ability to identify patterns in the data is what makes the data itself valuable.

Data analysis is a multi­faceted process. Analyzing and interpreting needs to be followed by presenting data in a valuable way to coworkers and management.

Interested in acquiring the skills to meet this growing demand? Here are some suggestions that are worth considering.

Understanding Which Data to Analyze
Before diving into any techniques for data analysis or visualization, it’s important to make sure you know which data is available and which data would provide the most value.

For example, a data analyst at a fast food chain could pull data to discover how many people order soft drinks with their food, which type of soft drink is most popular, and whether there are any regional differences between different restaurants.

Results from this type of data analysis could inform purchase and distribution decisions.

However, tasked with a different priority, a data analyst could aim to discover what customers order between 11am and 2pm on different days of the week.

Results from this analysis might show that more salads are sold during this time than during the rest of the day in some restaurants.

In other restaurants, more fries are sold than at any other time of the day.

With this information, decisions can be made that affect the staffing levels and responsibilities to improve efficiency of food preparation and service to customers.

So before jumping into any data analysis, the first skill is the ability to ensure you have obtained the exact requirements – or are able to pitch suggestions for requirements that may lead to the most valuable results for the business.

Visualizing Data

Presenting findings to others in a skillful way determines whether or not your data analysis will be useful for decision making.

Data visualization is a growing trend backed up by solid theoretical principles.

If you’re interested in developing your skill set in this direction, and once you’ve gotten the theory down, you can experiment with data visualization tools like Tableau and SAS Analytics.

Data visualization is a growing field, and it looks likely to only become more important in the future.

Data Storytelling

If you’re of a more marketing persuasion, data storytelling might be one to add to your skill set list.

Data storytelling involves the ability to communicate data insights and involves not just the data and its accompanying visualizations but also a strong narrative.

Knowing not only how to interpret data but how to package it into a compelling story can build a bridge between emotion and logic to make the data more meaningful.

Brush up on Math and Logic

Depending on the level of involvement you want to have with data analysis, it may simply be a useful venture to brush up on your math and logic skills.

These complementary and hugely transferrable skills will serve you well in any interactions you have with data.

And considering that data is proliferating throughout every department – it seems likely that every single one of us will need to be comfortable making data-based decisions.

Merged with data analytics, problem solving, and programming – you’re looking at one hefty skill set.

Skill Set #2 – Virtual Reality

Skill sets virtual reality

It has been predicted that within 10 years virtual reality hardware will be an $80 billion industry.

And the demand for people with VR knowledge is up 37% over last year.

Virtual reality will have a variety of uses in many (and some unexpected) professional situations.

From product development to simulated training for surgeons, the applications for VR could be endless.

Anyone with VR skill sets will be highly valuable.

Keeping Pace with VR Goals

In fact, companies are already struggling to keep up with the demand for people who can make their virtual reality goals a reality.

And companies have only just begun to explore their goals – as evident at the South by Southwest conference (SXSW) this year during the VR/AR Experience.

For example – NASA gave a VR guided tour of a giant 300 foot rocket. There was also a demonstration of using VR to treat disorders and physiological difficulties, and Gatorade loaded people into a virtual version of their real-life Fuel Lab.

Think these might be career skill sets you’d like to add to your portfolio? We have some suggestions for where to start.

Get into the VR Mindset

Before getting to grips with tool-based types of skill sets, you’ll need to focus on adjusting the way you think.

Since you’ll be designing for “real world” screens, you’ll want to focus on 3D calibration, side­by­side rendering, and syncing audio with video.

Once you’ve got your head around this new way of designing for VR screens, you can focus on mastering VR­specific skills such as those listed below:

3D Modeling

3D modeling software is the key to creating the object you want to realize. It’s the zone in which you will build your creations before setting them into a VR environment.

Want to transport people to New York City, Dubai, or Tokyo to tour their potential holiday destination?

Or to learn about the Ancient Greeks by visiting the Parthenon as it was in 440 BC?

Whatever your motivation, once your 3D model is ready, you will use a real-time engine to breathe life into your creation by placing it into VR.

Modeling tools are used in conjunction with 3D engines to create life­like VR environments.

3D Engines

As mentioned, a 3D engine brings your 3D object to life.

Developing skills and experience with at least one 3D engine will give you tons of possibilities.

As a starting point, Unity is a 3D engine used for VR. You can get the ball rolling (figuratively and literally) with their free online tutorials.

More Resources for Learning VR Skills:

Udemy’s Virtual Reality Course ­ Covering Unity, C#, Cardboard, Gear VR, and Oculus Layout VR

Skill Set #3 – the Internet of Things

Skill sets Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) gives machines the ability to communicate with each other.

McKinsey predicts that one trillion devices could be connected by 2025.

Coffeemakers can be programmed to work in sync with alarm clocks; smartphones can talk to cars; and office light sensors can work with security systems.

Machinery in industrial manufactories will sense when a replacement part is needed, automatically order it, and even book a visit from an expert to install it.

The possibilities for workplace applications are boundless.

Technologist Anthony Williams has noted that, “Virtually every animate and inanimate object on Earth could be generating and transmitting data, including our homes, our cars, our natural and man­made environments, and yes, even our bodies.”

Skills as a Barrier to IoT Adoption

Predictive IT is the next natural progressive step in the workplace. The future will be filled with IoT driven machines talking to other machines.

But it will take people with the right skills to make that happen.

Companies are already discovering that there’s not enough talent with the right skills to manage and execute on IoT projects.

According to research from Gartner, lack of expertise is the most commonly cited barrier for companies looking to adopt IoT technology.

Knowing how to program for IoT will be crucial. In addition to learning the more classic programming languages like C#, specific languages like Go and Parasail will be crucial in machine­to machine­communication development.

IEEE has included these newer, IoT­specific languages on their list of the top programming languages for 2015.

Of a coding disposition? Here are some suggestions for technical skill sets worth engaging with to be a part of the IoT wave in the coming years.


ParaSail is a language used for parallel processing in IoT applications.

It’s a compiled, object­oriented language that can be programmed with a syntax that resembles Java, Python, and C#.


Named after the comedy troupe, this web development language has become a mainstay, and its popularity is spreading to the IoT world.

It’s flexible and has an emphasis on readability and compact code.


Some people love it; some people hate it; but most people seem to agree that not only is JavaScript here to stay but that it holds the key to the future.

JavaScript is a popular choice for the embedded software used in the Internet of Things.

A micro­controller and just a dash of JavaScript can build a smart home. Online tutorials like Free Code Camp can help you get started.

Key Takeaways

The workplace is evolving. Luckily for us, we can predict with reasonable assurance where skills will be required.

In order to progress in the workplace of tomorrow, at any level, understanding how to make use of technological breakthroughs, data, and new platforms will be a significant advantage.

How we prepare now will affect how we fare in the near future.

If you’re looking to develop your skill set, I suggest taking a closer look at:

  • Working with data. The more meaning you are able to derive from the vast amounts of data heading your way, the better position you’ll be in to make or support decisions.
  • Virtual Reality. VR requires a shift in mindset to make the best use of this immersive platform. The applications extend to a surprisingly diverse range of commercial scenarios and could provide incredible value.
  • The Internet of Things. It’s the next natural step in the evolution of IT. But with so many ‘things’ to connect, we are in need of more people with the skill sets to build the connections.

What skill sets would you add to this skill sets list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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