Microsoft MEA: the rise of digital natives
What are you doing with your life?
Maybe you’re a recent graduate, ready to put a tentative toe on the career ladder. Perhaps you’ve been working for a few years and want to take control of your life and put your experience to better use – if only you could figure out your big idea. Or else you’re sitting at your laptop, quietly figuring out how to make your mark on the world.
What you’re probably not doing is looking for a company that you can call home for the rest of your days. That’s because we’re waving a collective goodbye to outdated notions of success. We now want – and sometimes need – to embrace careers that give us the opportunity to try new things and explore our passions to make a living.
These changes in working attitudes are fuelling the ‘gig’ economy. A working model that involves taking on lots of different jobs or interesting projects, for shorter periods of time.
The concept is nothing new. The word gig was coined by musicians in the 1920s, at the height of the Jazz Age, as shorthand for ‘an engagement’. Artists, musicians and photographers have been working this way for years. But now this style of working is about to hit the corporate mainstream with today’s technology empowering entrepreneurs. Start-ups within the sharing economy such as AirBnB and TaskRabbit are making it easier for anyone to tap into new ways to earn. Etsy allows the creatively-minded to sell their wares on a global marketplace, while blogs and social networks like Instagram and YouTube help people build a profile doing what they love, and start generating attention that can help turn their passion into a career.
These changes don’t just benefit you as the worker. Businesses of all sizes are growing wise to the advantages of the gig economy and turning to an increasing amount of freelance support. Corporate managers understand that injecting a regular flow of external perspectives and fresh creativity can help them grow their organisations. By embracing project based working they can also adjust focus and resources as needed. Meanwhile, you get the flexibility to try a wider variety of roles in different environments.
So, this flexible world suits your ambition and way of working. You can accept that our world is constantly evolving and you want to play your part. Where do you start?
Don’t be scared to blur work and play
Look at your own interests and assets and consider how they could enhance what you could offer to employers. For example, if you spend time volunteering for organisations including things like tutoring students, building schools or working in a homeless or refugee shelter during a break in studies, speak to your manager about ways that you can contribute that experience to your company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. You’ll get a chance to share your knowledge and experience while helping your firm to contribute to the community perhaps in new and innovative ways.
Creativity is your biggest asset
The ability to bring the outside world into the office, and provide a new perspective, is one of the biggest reasons businesses are looking to hire people like you. But having creative ideas is no use if you can’t express them in a way that grabs attention and gets your message across.
Experiment with tools and tricks that suit you. Try technology that helps you share ideas and information in a visual way, or services that analyse and unpick complex data to get your point across. Bring the outside in: discussions in social networks, things that inspire you and your peers or innovation you’ve seen in your daily life and share it with your teams as inspiration. Your ideas will sing if they’re centred on your own passions. Having some tricks up your sleeve in a job interview or your first meeting with your new boss could help set you apart from the masses. Set up time –virtually or in person – to discuss how these might work in your organization and how you could work together to make them a reality.
Build a network
Switching jobs or roles more frequently means you’ll need to get used to working with different teams, in different locations and across different industries. Today, there are really no geographical or technical barriers – your attitude and ability to share ideas and resources is the key to success. Being ready to plug in and get started immediately will make moving around that little bit easier and collaborate with your adopted team. Keeping track of your contacts and knowing who to tap up for support as you move around is essential, and makes working with like-minded individuals simple. The relationships you establish and cultivate will help you expand your knowledge, provide invaluable career advice and could even help you secure your next gig.
Be prepared to start again
The concept of a ‘regular’ day in the office no longer exists. ‘9 to 5’ is a thing of the past, and startups are questioning whether they even need permanent offices. So why should your career continue to follow a traditional path? Don’t be afraid to course-correct if the role you’re in isn’t working out. With employers increasingly looking for soft skills, focus on the transferable knowledge you acquire along the way when considering a jump between jobs or industries.
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To be successful in the gig economy, it’s important to bring the right tools along for the ride. According to analyst firm IDC, oral and written communication, attention to detail, and proficiency with Microsoft Office top the list of skills students need for high-paying, fast-growth jobs. Office is used at the smallest of start-ups through to the majority of Fortune 500 companies, meaning that you’re ready to be a part of the team from day one, whatever the environment. Office 2016 combines familiar tools like Word, PowerPoint and Excel with new ways to work together, play out creative ideas and visualize complex information, like OneDrive, Sway, Sunrise, Wunderlist, Outlook, Skype, Yammer, Delve and Power BI.
But perhaps the most important skill required in today’s gig economy is reinvention. Being born as a digital native means you’re naturally more inclined to explore new technologies. Exploring this desire to grow will help keep you hungry, willing to learn and ready to share your ideas. As the skills needed in the workplace change, having the ability to adapt will help you make a greater impact on the world and lead its digital transformation.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”