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Feb 14, 2018 | 2 min read


What skills are required for the jobs of tomorrow?


François Truong

Project Director

“One man cannot practice many arts with success,” Plato tells us in The Republic. In the digital era, the opposite seems to be the case. Among the dozens of new jobs which are popping up every year, from the most trivial to the most decisive, many straddle several areas of skill.

Let’s take the example of the Growth Hacker – a marketer, developer and data scientist – who searches for the best levers to grow their business with limited resources. Or the Product Manager, simultaneously a designer, project manager and developer, often thought of as a CEO for products.

So does this prove Plato wrong and legitimize a more eclectic approach with versatile employees?

The major players in the new economy are organized in networks, interconnecting with one another’s information, users, businesses and objects. Marc Andreessen and Venkatesh Rao’s collection of essays devoted to analyzing technologies, Breaking Smart, remind us that “the three most desirable things in the platform economy are connections, connections and connections.” Google is the perfect example of this.

Let’s try to transpose this adage to the jobs of the digital economy. Being versatile does not necessarily mean juggling several jobs, in the manner of the slashers, those digital workers who combine various paid roles without any real status (perhaps proving Plato’s point after all). Instead, it’s about being connected to people, tools and methods.


The versatile employee in a digital economy

Above all, connecting to people means being a polyglot and sharing a common language with designers (“empathy”, “prototype”), developers (“API”, “front-end”) and data scientists (“data cleaning”, “random forest”). It also means being able to bring diverse skills and profiles together for a single project: a freelance developer found on Malt (formerly Hopwork), a design student recruited through Crème de la Crème and an expert in Growth Hacking known from a Meetup.

Connecting to tools means not having to reinvent the wheel. The flexible employee is not required to master technologies in depth to create a new product. They just need to know the basics and how to bring them together: WordPress for a website, Marvel for a mobile application prototype, Chatfuel for a chatbot, or IFTTT for automation of recurring tasks. For every function, there is a tool on the shelf, which our versatile employee can discover on dedicated sites such as Product Hunt. Not to mention APIs, which now make it possible to benefit quickly and simply from the data and functionalities of other stakeholders to drive your own development.

Finally, connecting to methods means knowing how to take into account precise objectives in order to select the right method: Design Thinking to more closely identify a user problem, Lean Startup to continuously iterate in the development of a product, or Lean Analytics to define a relevant indicator. Above all, it means understanding that a method alone is worthless. It must be adapted to the context of a business and a project, and only when it is mixed with (connected to) other methods will it reveal all its value.

And where does expertise fit into all of this? In 2018, in the USA alone, McKinsey estimates that there will be a shortage of 150,000 data scientists to meet corporate needs. So does this represent the victory of expertise over the kind of versatility mentioned earlier? Absolutely not. If we take a closer look, data scientists are more than just experts in the field of data. They are statisticians and developers, and must also be able to understand business issues. Even the greatest experts are demonstrating versatility.


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