Microsoft MVP Mentor Blog

This blog provides information about the MVP Mentor Program as well as student resources and success stories

Aligning Skills with Real World Business Benefits

Aligning Skills with Real World Business Benefits

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Editor’s note: The following post was written by SharePoint MVP Steve Smith

Steve SmithThis article deals with the subject of ‘Aligning skills with real world business benefits’ and why continued investment in technology skillsets is even more important today than it ever was. We will be looking at the importance of practical training alongside real world skills and aligning it all with qualifications and how a company as well an individual or team would benefit in both the short and long term after being through this process.

After many years in the education space especially around Microsoft products there is no doubt that the products themselves have evolved into much more complex platforms. The knowledge and skills that we developed in the nineties and early 2000 certainly provided a solid foundation for the core skills needed in today’s world. It is also more important than ever to have our end users trained and supported on these products, historically IT would deploy the product such as email and our users would get little if no formal training on how to use the products themselves. As the product range has evolved so has the benefit to the users and the business, but only if they all know how to get the most from it.

But what if you are fairly new to this brave new world of Microsoft technologies what skills am I talking about and why are they still so important?

Let’s take SharePoint as the perfect example for this article, it is a product that can provide so much to the business but if done badly does nothing more than make a bad situation worse. But SharePoint is not a standalone product if deploying on premises it requires many core skills that enables the product to function properly and to make the most of all the available feature sets. The product needs to authenticate and process data from other systems and therefore in order to really design / build / manage and troubleshooting SharePoint deployments, a good systems engineer or SharePoint server Administrator would ideally need the following basic skills before even starting to deploy the product in a live environment:

    • Knowledge of Active Directory
    • Knowledge of Windows Server 2008 R2 or Server 2012
    • Knowledge of SQL Server and database management
    • Knowledge of Internet information Server (IIS)
    • Knowledge of network configuration and management (TCP/IP, DNS)
    • Knowledge of Authentication methods (Claims, Windows, SAML Tokens, Forms)
    • Knowledge of security methods (Kerberos, SSL, IPSec)

If you also take a look at the output from the Microsoft Skills dashboard tool below (which is based on research conducted with www.theitjobboard.co.uk), you can clearly see that SharePoint roles are steadily in demand in today’s industry. The data helps visualize the skills shortage companies face for SharePoint experts through the data compiled from IT job listings - with most of the demand for Developers, but also high demand in IT Consultancy and Architect roles.

IT Dashboard

The above graph shows a 12 month period where the Y axis = No. of jobs available and the  X axis = Technology/Role.

If you are a company looking to use the cloud to host your SharePoint, Email and CRM data however you may not need all of the above core infrastructure skills as Microsoft is taking the burden of that away from you. But how do we migrate all our data to the cloud / what if we need to maintain a hybrid model for the foreseeable future and I still need to ensure my users are properly trained to use the new environment they are being asked to work in.

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