Six Hot IT Roles, But Not Totally New

Susan Hall

In a piece at InfoWorld, writer Robert Strohmeyer features six "new" IT jobs that he calls the hottest thing going. He scoured job sites such as Dice and Modis and interviewed IT execs as the basis of his article. But I think they're roles we've been talking about for a while.


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He starts off with business architect. I sent the link to our integration blogger Loraine Lawson, who has written extensively about the role of the enterprise architect. She replied, "Yes, welcome to IT, where a new name changes everything. (eye roll)"


Strohmeyer differentiates the business architect, though, from the enterprise architect this way:

Unlike the traditional enterprise architect, whose role is to organize technology to meet business goals, the business architect is a member of the business organization, reporting to the CEO and fashioning high-level company strategy with technology in mind. ... Think MBA with an IT focus.

To me, though, Strohmeyer's talking about what offshore IT and software development company HCL has been calling "the reincarnate CIO" - one who looks for ways to use technology to drive business growth.


When I interviewed Krishnan Chatterjee, HCL's chief marketing officer, earlier this year, he offered some examples of ways HCL clients have successfully employed IT to create new lines of business, including an IT organization that created an iPad application to sell home furnishings. The app allows its sales staff to visit customers, pull up the company's inventory on the iPad, take a photo of a room and show customers how different furnishings would look placed in different positions in the room.


Said Chatterjee:

By using mobility and working on the user experience, IT has created a new sales channel that is the most profitable channel these guys have ever found. That kind of stuff, to me, would be absolutely business-leading. And it's not something I would expect the business to come up with, because it already has its retail outlet and other channels, maybe through architects and interior designers or whatever, that they've been working with for umpteen years. But with a new channel, IT comes roaring in with a disruption to the business model.

We're hearing that's increasingly the role that CIOs are expected to take, and many want to take, so maybe this job title is merely a matter of semantics.


Strohmeyer's hot job No. 2: data scientist. He says:

The cliche going around is that "data is the new oil." A career in refining that raw material sounds like a good bet.

No argument there. We've written a lot about companies wrestling with Big Data and the shortage of trained staff in data analytics. This demand is such that the University of California-San Diego ranked data mining and analytics No. 2 on its Top 10 list of hot jobs, after health care IT. A new survey by IBM finds CIOs of midsize companies also wanting to mine their data, so expect the demand to only increase.


No. 3: social media architect. (Don't IT types love the word "architect"?) Says Strohmeyer:

Social media no longer means just Facebook and Twitter. IBM, Jive, and Yammer are now the companies to watch, offering social tools for public and private clouds that redefine the role of social media for business. This creates a demand for IT pros with the specialized knowledge to build secure communities within a business network and between businesses and customers.

Loraine predicted last December that this would be a big topic this year.


Strohmeyer divides mobile into two roles: Hot job No. 4, managing mobile devices, which he calls "mobile technology expert," and No. 5, enterprise mobile developer. Of the former, he says:

If you have serious IT experience deploying and managing fleets of BlackBerry, Android, and iOS devices, there's ample work ahead.

Sarah McMullin, business development manager for Sybase, which provides that service, in a guest post recently advocated farming that job out because most companies don't have those skills in-house. But for those who want to develop them, the place to start is policy. Our IT Downloads center contains a wealth of resources on mobile device management to help you get started.


And yes, if you're a mobile developer, you can pretty much write your own ticket right now. Strohmeyer writes of increased focus on compliance and security in app development, though he doesn't quite hone in on the business strategy behind going mobile, which has to be a core piece of the puzzle.


And hot job No. 6: cloud architect. (That word again.) While more companies seem to be ramping up than actually implementing cloud computing at this point, somebody has to figure it out and manage it. In an earlier InfoWorld piece, David Linthicum defined the cloud architect role this way: Cloud architect = enterprise architect + SOA architect + cloud technologist. He wrote:

... the cloud architect needs to be an expert in the existing cloud computing technology: public, private, and hybrid, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. You can't build something unless you understand the tools and raw materials that are available, and the same goes for bringing cloud computing technology into the enterprise to form solutions.

And if you use a managed service, there's the whole issue of SLAs, which can require skills that CIO.com earlier called "cat herders" - folks who ride herd on not just one vendor, but many in tandem.


So for the IT folks worried about their jobs, it's not a matter that work will disappear, but, as always, it requires aligning your skills with demand - not always an easy task.

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