For IT professionals, this year ahead is likely to be a transformative one. Big Data, mobile development, the cloud and security will not only continue to drive changes in business, they’ll also reshape the tech job market. More than ever, IT professionals will be required to straddle the line between IT and business expert.
We’ve seen before how IT departments are quickly transitioning away from simply being responsible for infrastructure and development to becoming drivers of innovation. But while demands on their departments grow, CIOs remain skittish enough about the economy to keep a careful eye on their budgets. In turn, companies are expected to increase their vendor and consultant pools.
Here’s a quick rundown of the top three job trends for 2014.
According to Daniel Burrus, founder and CEO of Burrus Research Associates, IT departments are being thought of as profit centers. And while the CIO and CTO roles aren’t going away, he says, their duties will be redefined to handle and spearhead innovation.
“Every position is morphing to keep up with innovation — cloud, mobile, tablet and security,” he says. “The move to cloud infrastructure, cloud computing hardware and collaboration as a service is redefining what their role will be.” IT professionals in hybrid roles – those with knowledge of finance or marketing, for instance — will be the ones in demand and kept in-house, Burrus projects, since they’ll be integral to driving business.
Jobs in Demand
Software developers are expected to see the most job growth between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but new areas of expertise are rising, most notably for user interface and user experience designers.
But here again, the need for business skills is important to a professional’s viability in the job market. IT professionals who want to move into the ranks of project managers, for example, will need to have a strong understanding of the business side, says Julia Berning, talent acquisition manager for software company Cincom Systems. “They need to make sure they’ve split their time between coding and programming and consulting,” she explains. “They need to understand the impact on the client.”
Another factor driving demand: Businesses increasingly understand the value of Big Data and are competing for database experts. “Ninety percent of data out there is still unstructured,” notes David Foote of researcher Foote Partners. That’s a challenge companies want to solve.
Consulting Still on the Uptick
Finally, consulting positions will continue to be a driver in technology hiring. In 2013, management and technical consulting services accounted for more than 48 percent of all new IT jobs created, according to the BLS. “Contract workers as a portion of the internal IT workforce at many medium- to large-size organizations has been rising and now sits at between 10 and 25 percent of the total,” says Foote.
The focus is on skills acquisition and not necessarily full-time hires, especially as companies look to keep their businesses agile, he says. Of course, some positions — such as architects, analysts, project managers and developers – may never leave the office as worries about protecting sensitive customer and client information stay high.