The Technology Skills Every Employee Should Have Today


The demand for basic knowledge of only Word and Excel in workplaces is no longer adequate. Technological advancements in data analysis, organization, and communication have transformed all aspects of office work. Irrespective of the department, including sales, marketing, project management, or design, employers now require employees to be proficient in data management, analysis, and presentation. The widespread adoption of remote work has made it imperative for professionals to learn advanced features of online collaboration. Columbia Business School Dean, Costis Maglaras, believes technology is a driver of change, leading to value and disruption within organizations, and people need to possess core knowledge even if they are not technologists. A survey conducted by Gartner Research and Advisory firm revealed that on average, an office worker uses 11 applications on the job, with 17% of employees using 16 or more apps.

In today's workplace, it is necessary for office workers to possess certain tech skills, many of which are expected to be already acquired. Data analysis is a crucial proficiency that employees should have, with companies collecting copious amounts of data that require software to sort and analyze. Leading data-visualization programs include Microsoft's Power BI and Tableau, which allow users to combine data from multiple sources and turn it into charts and graphs. Familiarity with traditional software like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets is also important, with advanced features such as pivot tables being necessary to perform tasks that data visualization programs can do. Udemy and LinkedIn Learning are popular online learning platforms for acquiring these skills, with Excel being a top-ranked course. Similarly, employees typically add spreadsheets skills to their LinkedIn profiles to showcase their abilities.

According to Art Markman, vice provost for continuing and professional education at the University of Texas at Austin, employees need to know more than just the basics of traditional office programs, such as Excel or Sheets, Word or Google Docs, and PowerPoint or Google Slides. Employers now require workers to be proficient in advanced features of these programs to create compelling presentations and documents that demonstrate excellent storytelling capabilities and a professional design. This can include adding animations or custom graphics to presentation decks and being familiar with collaborative features such as sharing and commenting. Additionally, proficiency in communication tools like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and Slack is essential for remote meetings. Melisa Barron, a 2022 MBA graduate from the University of Texas at Austin working in strategy for grocery giant H-E-B, uses advanced PowerPoint features like videos and custom colors to build sophisticated presentations and sometimes turns to Canva, an online design program, to create graphics.

According to Mr. Mariano, employees are proficient in using basic features like chat and meetings in Microsoft Teams, but lack skills in utilizing advanced services such as channels to discuss specific topics or linking other apps to share files and manage projects. Another area where employees need to hone their skills is in managing emails, including creating effective subject lines, sending mass mailings, and curating lists. Communication skills are considered the top skill on ZipRecruiter's Skills Index, with Microsoft Outlook ranking 20th. Moreover, organizing and planning programs that allow for task management, time tracking, and file sharing are becoming increasingly important for coordinating work. For instance, marketing companies can streamline workflows by automating the process with alerts, direct document access, and time-tracking capabilities to evaluate productivity or determine to bill for clients.

In 2022, project-management software such as Asana and Trello was among the top tech skills added to LinkedIn profiles, according to industry expert Mr. Mariano. Additionally, robotic process automation is gaining popularity as a way to automate repetitive computer tasks, and the skills needed to create these robots do not have to be complex. Tools like Microsoft's Power Automate offer no-code capabilities and were among the fastest-growing office productivity skills on Udemy in 2022. However, some coding knowledge can be helpful, especially for analyses that may be too complex for programs like Excel. Python and SQL are two popular languages, both of which are offered as courses on LinkedIn Learning. According to Dr. Moallemi, basic coding skills can also improve collaboration between businesspeople, programmers, data scientists, and user-experience designers in teams. The ultimate goal is increased efficiency through the automation of repetitive tasks.

The increasing availability of AI tools such as ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion means that everyone can now benefit from AI in their work. Microsoft's recently launched Copilot service, which integrates AI models such as OpenAI's GPT-4 technology, allows users to generate and automate text, presentations, and even conversations based on other documents and material. Similarly, Salesforce's Slack app uses OpenAI's technology to provide summaries of conversations and help with drafting messages. Individuals wanting to incorporate AI into their work can take courses such as Andrew Ng's "AI for Everyone" and experiment with new tools to achieve efficiency gains and offload repetitive tasks. The goal is to apply AI to tasks that can result in 80% efficiency gains, especially in areas where users want to avoid becoming an expert.

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