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Jordan Martin: how to dive into digital transformation with both feet

It's the quintessential question for professionals who are increasingly finding that the half-life of any newly acquired skill is roughly two and a half years. Given this rapid — and accelerating — rate of change, what is the best way to attain and hone the right skills to ensure future success?

During this Software Defined Enterprise Conference & Expo (SDxE) panel discussion titled “Your Career: Certifications, Degrees or Just-In-Time Training?” Jordan Martin, Core BTS’s principal consultant of data center technologies and co-founder of the Network Collective, will discuss strategies for network engineers to stay ahead of the learning curve.

In a Q&A with SDxE, Martin gives a sneak peek of the insights he plans to share at SDxE.


SDxE: What do you think is the biggest barrier organizations face with digital transformation – technology or culture? And why?

Jordan Martin: It’s hard to paint broadly on a topic like this, but from the perspective of the enterprise I’d say the challenge is primarily cultural. Infrastructure traditionally hasn't been a topic dominating executive board rooms, and because of this, technology groups have often been left on their own to build something that can support the organization's technical needs. It doesn’t work that way in the new world, as we see a need for broader cooperation between technology silos, and even between technology groups and the business functions that they support. This cooperation doesn’t happen accidentally and requires clarity of direction and change from the top down. Without it, digital transformation will be another trend that passes us by with insignificant impact to business operations.


SDxE: What challenges have you faced in your company with digital transformation? Where have you had success?

JM: As a consultant, it’s the organizations that I consult for that are seeing the largest challenges with digital transformation. Many technology groups that I work with are hesitant to jump in with both feet, having done so before and been burned either by unsupportive leadership, or by an industry that moves on before they can successfully implement the latest trend. They’re seeing the current technology innovations as another risk-filled proposition.

The companies that are having success adopting the new models are the ones that have both clarity and support from the leadership team in trying a new way of doing things. The other key factor is an organization-wide understanding of how technology can provide business value. When this is understood, the risk-to-reward calculations tend to be a bit less intimidating.


SDxE: Your panel is titled “Your Career: Certifications, Degrees or Just-In-Time training?” Without too many spoilers, can you give us an overview?

JM: It’s never been harder to know what you should be focusing on when it comes to your own personal growth. Certifications tend to lag in comparison to industry innovation, making traditional certification paths feel less relevant to today’s technology landscape. Formal education is even slower to adapt to market trends, and the exponential increase in cost is making the ROI calculations harder and harder to justify. Certifications and formal education are the traditional models for building and validating skills, but with a market changing as quickly as ours, we need to evaluate if they’re still doing the job we need them to. I’m looking forward to discussing where this leaves us and what we can do to ensure continued excellence in a software-defined world.


SDxE: What is the best way to attain and hone the right skills to ensure future success in software-defined business?

JM: This is the question on everyone’s mind right now, isn’t it? The reality is that the learning process isn’t going to change just because the technology has. The same old rules apply. However, what is different is that the information on how to manage these new technologies isn’t going to be as widely available as some of the more traditional infrastructure skills. Initially, at least. If you want to be someone on the front end of software-defined infrastructure, you’ll have to be proactive about finding your educational resources.


CP: What do you hope attendees gain from your session and the overall conference?

JM: My hope is that the attendees of the session will leave with: 1. a clear understanding that owning your own education is the only way to ensure future success; 2. enough knowledge and perspective to start planning a learning trajectory; and 3. the confidence to determine what will and won’t work in their unique situations.


Jordan Martin will be speaking on a panel in Palo Alto on 26 September for this year’s Software Defined Enterprise Conference & Expo (SDxE) to talk about 'Your Career: Certifications, Degrees or Just-In-Time Training?'

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