The rise of the hybrid roles
“Proactive”, “emphatic” or “focused”: these are some of the buzzwords and trending skills that every job offer should contain. Yet we are witnessing to an increasing demand in the tech industry of a new kind of profile, geared with a toolkit aimed to thrive among digital products. We call it the “hybrid profile”.
For thousands of years products consisted of physical goods such as wheels, shoes or drawers. Nonetheless, today we are interacting more and more with digital products. This transition from the analog to the digital leads to implications that go beyond the mere interaction with the end user. They involve a wide range of processes that span from logistics, manufacture and design to the formation of specific teams responsible for the development of the product itself.
In other words, all the components involved in the creation, distribution and sale of a digital product are, in some way, influenced by the same digital ingredient: code. For this reason, the ones who acknowledge this situation and learn the fundamental principles underlying digital goods, will inevitably have a considerable advantage when dealing with this new breed of products.
Programming is not only for programmers
In the early days, coding has been perceived as a vertical and isolated discipline. Disconnected from the rest of the company, programmers were seen as those “computer-experts” guys sitting in a dark room doing mysterious things that nobody really understood. You would acknowledge their skills just when your computer had some issues or didn’t work: you would simply bring it to them and and take it back soon after magically fixed.
The good news is that today programming is not any more a prerogative of programmers. Technology has trickled down in a way that the tools that once used to be exclusive to programmers have now been democratized so more people can have access to them. Technology is becoming more human, and this phenomenon has created a deep link between the digital world and professional roles that used to be isolated from it.
Programming has become a new transversal skill which crosses all the departments in a modern company from human resources to accounting. For this reason, statements such as “everybody should learn how to code” are, as a matter of fact, a reflection of a shift that is already taking place in the industry.
Being able to read and write doesn’t implicitly mean that we will all be poets. Similarly, having a basic understanding of programming and technology doesn’t necessarily imply that we will code for a living. It simply means that we will possess a new universal skill which can enrich our professional career. No matter what your gig is, chances are that sooner or later you’ll need to deal with code or with someone who codes. Learning how to program in the 21st century can be compared to studying English today: we won’t necessarily write a new Shakespearean play, but we will surely need it in the new cosmopolitan work environment of multinational companies and start-ups.
Upgrading your skills
In a “traditional” company, both product and business units were perfectly aligned. They understood what their counterpart did, thus creating a healthy relation and an enhanced communication. Salespeople, for instance, had a clear understanding of the product and how to pitch it to suit the client needs. Marketers mastered the value proposition and clearly identified the go-to-market strategy.
Nevertheless, digital products that non-technical people no longer understand are breaking this subtle connection apart. Although we are just starting to scratch the surface, large organizations are already feeling this pain and investing many resources to fill this gap.
Some among these large organizations are already asking Ironhack to help them bridge this division and prepare their workforce to cope with the digital shift. Our program for “non-coders” is specifically aimed to non-technical roles so they can acquire a brand-new complementary set of skills to make informed decisions based on the fundamental understanding of digital products.
As Ironhack campus manager here in Barcelona, I’ve been lucky enough to see really smart people going through such digital transformation. Markus, for instance is a Harvard MBA 2019 which currently works as Global Venture Developer at Rocket Internet. When he enrolled in our Web Development Bootcamp, he told me: “my desire is not to become the world’s best developer. Maybe I will never again write a line of code after the bootcamp. However, I want to understand how to develop the products of the future – through software. This skill will help me in just about every industry”.
Markus is the clear example of a great marketer that has “hacked” the digital channels to reach their customers and find new market opportunities. But it’s not only about marketing though, Andreu, for example, last summer came to Ironhack Barcelona to get help in transitioning from consultancy to a software product manager position. Today he’s working as a PM at the startup Onebox. His experience at our bootcamp converted him into a hybrid profile, with a clear technical understanding of digital products: “Ironhack is more than just coding skills and learning best practices. I came out with a new mentality and a better understanding of the entire software development process. This is a priceless asset for a product manager like me”.
The need for hybrid profiles in the industry is just the tip of an iceberg. With the increasing growth of digital products, the gap between non-technical and technical profiles will get bigger.
Not only is technology drastically changing the set of skills required in a modern job, but it is also reshaping traditional roles. Hybrid positions today earn a salary which is 25% above the average. Just in the United States, more than 250.000 hybrid jobs will be created in the upcoming years.
And that’s just the beginning. Organizations that have yet remained untouched by this wave will need to adapt to this new reality rather sooner than later. From paperless politics, to uploading inventories online, understanding where their customers want to be reached… All of this will require a new way of thinking about products, and it will certainly involve code and programming skills.
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