As the internet has grown from 70 million users in 1997 to 2.2 billion, entrepreneurial companies with technology at their core have disrupted entire industries and threatened or eliminated incumbents. For example, Square, the new electronic payment service, has already upended a long-established financial ecosystem, with some arguing that it may even replace cash.
In recent years, incumbents have fought back. A 2011 IBM study of over 3,000 CIOs revealed that CIO-CEO alignment is stronger than ever, with traditional companies aggressively investing in technology innovation. Big-box retailers, like Best Buy, now have large, fast growing e-commerce businesses. The New York Times and other traditional publishers are launching digital products tailored to the mobile web. Even the big banks are getting social.
Yes, this is creating unprecedented demand for employees with serious technical chops. But as more traditional businesses are being run on software and a larger component of a company’s customer experience is being delivered online, everyone from marketing to general management needs to take notice. Studies confirm that technology skills will be crucial for future employment prospects. Engineer or not, the managers and employees who understand new consumer technologies and can create value by deploying software as a solution will be those most valued by organizations young and old.