Systems integration professionals have seen an uptick in hiring as more companies implement package-based solutions to their core infrastructures.
Observing the trend, Tracy Cashman, a partner in Boston-based WinterWyman’s IT Search division, says, “I don’t think it’s going away for the next year to two years.”
Systems integration is as diverse as the job description is broad. Titles depend on the company and level of the role. High level positions include director of integration, solutions architect, cloud architect, cloud integration engineer and SaaS engineer.
Dakin Gunn, director of permanent placement services for Robert Half Technology in San Francisco, notes that recruiters are being asked for more candidates who specialize in ERP, CRM and cloud systems such as Salesforce, Workday or PeopleSoft. “We’re definitely seeing a larger need,” he says. “The title may not always be ‘systems integration,’ but the work is systems integration. The biggest demand is in cloud or SaaS or PaaS, as well as in the CRM arena.”
Gunn has seen more requests for scripting languages and networking, as well. “Candidates really need to be able to script things so the systems automate with each other,” he says. “Other big ones are networking experience, networking protocols, firewalls, routing and security.”
“Employers are looking for candidates with a good knowledge of apps and excellent SQL skills to tie their systems together” adds WinterWyman’s Cashman. “Old school businesses wanted a certain language or tool or skill, whether it was Java or .NET. Now you might get ‘Yes, we need someone who knows .NET but what we really need are the SQL skills.’”
As with other areas of tech, succeeding as a systems integrator requires more than hard technical skills. Employers aren’t focusing on types of integration, such as vertical or horizontal, Cashman observes. They’re looking for breadth rather than depth. The technology piece of the soft skill that comes up the most is the ability to problem solve. “Employers want candidates who can look at the system, perceive the bumps and have an intuitive understanding of how to get the different elements to talk to one another,” she says.
Having customer- and client-facing people skills is important, too, because “they’ll be going out and integrating the company’s systems into the clients’ systems,” notes Gunn. The company that’s getting the service may want their own point of contact. “Integrations are extraordinarily expensive, he continues. “When you’re paying for a service, you’re going to need your own expert.”
Big Data Opportunities
Another arena is Big Data. People that have experience with Big Data analytics or Big Data platform integration are in high demand right now. Gunn says a Hadoop background or NoSQL database experience is a plus, as well. “They’re not always a requirement,” he says “but most companies want to harness that data. It’s a marketable skill set.”