Many IT 'Jobs of the Future' Will Involve Delving into Data

Ann All

Many industry observers predict IT employees of the future will be less focused on building and delivering services and more focused on integrating and managing them. I wrote about this shift earlier this month, sharing some scary forecasts from the Corporate Executive Board's Information Technology Practice and titling my post "Say Goodbye to IT as We Know It."


A Computerworld article strikes a similar theme (and title) with "IT Careers 2010: The End of IT as We Know It." You can accuse journalists of having a sensationalistic bent, but IT pros themselves recognize a shift is under way. Twenty-six percent of IT pros surveyed by Computerworld last month said that while their role will still exist in 2020, "it will have changed dramatically." Another 10 percent said their current job would no longer exist, and 7 percent said it was "not likely" their job would still be around.


In addition, 48 percent of respondents said the IT department "will become a dramatically different kind of operation" by 2020 and 11 percent said the standalone IT department would cease to exist by 2020. Just 9 percent predicted status quo, with the future IT department looking essentially the same as it does today.


Given that so many people think future IT roles will change so much, which skill sets will be important moving forward? Writing on Microsoft's JobsBlog, the company's Eugenia Sawa taps three areas: data mining/machine learning/AI/natural language processing, business intelligence/competitive intelligence, and analytics/statistics.


The common theme connecting all of these areas is companies' desire to glean insights from their growing volumes of data. Microsoft isn't the only technology giant predicting these areas will be key IT skills of the future.


As IT Business Edge contributor Mike Vizard wrote in June, IBM is working to develop its analytics expertise, spending $11 billion over the past five years to acquire analytics specialists and another $2 billion on internal R&D, and partnering with universities to develop programs designed to produce graduates ready for analytics careers. Hal Varian, Google's chief economist, last summer told The New York Times statistician would be a "sexy" job in IT over the next decade.


Last month IT Business Edge contributor Loraine Lawson wrote a post about semantic technology, which underpins many emerging efforts to better organize and understand data. Though semantic technology is still fairly new, it's becoming easier to find real-life case studies. Best Buy, for instance, added semantic information to its website to make it easier for customers to find what they were looking for online.

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