Demand for Specialized IT Skills Changing Staffing Process


Yesterday I wrote a depressing post about The Hackett Group's prediction that nearly 2 million IT jobs in North America and Europe will be eliminated between 2000 and 2014, part of a larger group of 3.6 million general and administrative positions. IT is facilitating this, Hackett Group analysts Michel Janssen and Erik Dorr told me, by making it possible to automate lots of previously manual functions.


I wrapped the post with a quote from Senad Hadzic, a CIO who told Forbes he is looking to hire process experts, "business analysts who can take IT to the higher level." Business process management/modeling is one of several business-oriented areas to appear on a list of 32 hot IT skills produced by Foote Partners, a consulting company specializing in IT employment.


Like The Hackett Group's Janssen and Dorr, a Foote Partners research note indicates companies will seek out increasingly specialized skills, not good news for programmers and others relatively low on the IT food chain. While companies might choose to acquire their desired skills internally, by hiring or training, they also can employ third-party contractors, go offshore or purchase managed services.


Because of economic upheaval and an emphasis on gaining high-impact skills at a predictable cost, decisions to hire and fire are "happening in weeks and even days" rather than months, according to the note, which is a summary of a piece of longer and more detailed research. This could come back to bite employers, if skills possessed by dismissed employees return to favor.


What's hot

Security is one of the most stable areas of IT, now and for the foreseeable future, according to Foote Partners. Pay and demand for security skills have been rising since 2007, and companies are not cutting information security staff. The report credits "more regulation; constant fear of increasing threats; greater customer expectations and demands aimed at vendors; and the splitting of business/strategic risk and operational security activities, which has been accelerated by market forces."


Companies aren't just looking for security-related infrastructure and application skills, but for broader and more business-oriented risk-management and governance capabilities.


Social media and e-commerce are other areas in which Foote Partners predicts an overlap of technical and more business-oriented skills. Among the in-demand technical skills related to social media and e-commerce: Microsoft Commerce Server, Java, SOAP, Python, Microsoft Sharepoint, C, SQL and Sybase Adaptive Server.


Other skills that Foote Partners predicts will see an upswing in demand in 2010: ERP (mostly SAP); open source operating systems; virtualization; IP networking areas including VPN, Metro Ethernet and IP telephony; e-commerce development and business intelligence.


Foote Partners calls managed services adoption an "X factor," and lists several of the areas it predicts will be hot IT skills in the coming year as also "affected by growth in managed services in 2010." It cites numbers from several analyst firms, which are predicting big growth for managed services.