What’s New This Quarter
Over the past couple of years, the evolution of Chicago’s Motorola Mobility division has made headlines time and again. Now things may be settling down: In October, Lenovo Group completed its purchase of the Libertyville-based company from Google, a $2.91 billion deal that guarantees the unit will stay in Chicago. As part of the deal, Google will keep many patents and license them to Lenovo, while about 2,000 patents will go to the latter. Lenovo has struggled to bring its own smartphones into the U.S. market, so this may be its best chance to grow that business on these shores. According to IDC, Motorola Mobility has 10 percent of the U.S. market for smartphones, shipping 11.7 million units in the third quarter, up from 2.5 million a year earlier.
Lenovo may also want to follow the lead of some other suburban companies and plant a flag downtown. “Although we are seeing more businesses growing a presence in the suburbs, they are also opening up locations in the Loop to attract the best technical talent,” said Justin Priest, Chicago managing director of recruiting firm Randstad Technologies.
Lenovo competitor Dell is also establishing a foothold in Chicago, planning to open a customer-solutions center in the city in early 2015. The facility, which will be one of 15 worldwide, will be a place for enterprise customers and channel partners to try out Dell products.
Chicago’s healthcare IT market will get a big boost when Matter, a new healthcare tech incubator opening soon at the Merchandise Mart, gets up and running. It has selected its first 10 startups, all of which are from the Chicago area. Up to 200 people may end up working at Matter, with most companies expected to have between one and 10 employees. Half the startups were founded by doctors, four were created by serial entrepreneurs, and three have been through accelerator programs. The list:
- AltaThera Pharmaceuticals
- Coeus Health
- Qualia Health
- Regroup Therapies
- Resonance Medical
- Sparrow Pharmaceuticals
- TeleHealth Robotics
One startup that’s already seen big success is Big-Data innovator 640 Labs, which was bought by San Francisco-based Climate Corp., a technology unit of Monsanto. The company uses GPS, wireless, and mobile tech to give farmers data on crops and equipment. Climate Corp. has about 700 employees and plans to recruit more workers in Chicago and look for a larger space. “Chicago’s got great talent in data analytics and mobile software development,” co-founder Corbett Kull told the Chicago Business Journal.
Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), on the other hand, is heading out of town, building an IT center that will create 200 high-paying jobs in the Cincinnati area, far away from its Chicago headquarters. One thing ADM will miss is AT&T’s gigabit Internet service, which is on its way.
Skills in Demand
“We’ve seen a spike in direct hires as opposed to contingency workers, depending on the complexity of the technical environment and the organization’s size,” Randstad’s Priest said. “If the ramp time is longer than a few weeks, companies typically don’t see the value in bringing in a resource for 18 to 24 months only to watch that knowledge walk out the door. Instead, they’re shifting their approach and hiring more full-time employees.”
What skills are hot? “We continue to see a lot of demand in the development realm,” Priest added. “That includes Java, Ruby, Python, front end technologies, mobile, and .NET. There’s also demand for QA automation, security, and project management.”
According to IT recruiting firm Robert Half Technology, 60 percent of Chicago technology executives surveyed said that network administration is among the skill sets in greatest demand within their IT departments, followed by database management and Windows administration.
“We’re seeing IT hiring across multiple industries in Chicago, from manufacturing to healthcare to financial services,” said Randy Wolf, Chicago regional vice president of Robert Half Technology. “Budgets are anticipated to be up in 2015, and as a result, many companies are prepared to add IT staff in the first two quarters to help their organizations run more efficiently. Technology professionals with specialized skills in C#, PHP, .NET, VMware, and Citrix will be in particularly high demand.”
According to the 2014-2013 Dice Salary Survey, the average salary for a Chicago IT professional is $86,574, up 1.7 percent from the previous year but 2.6 percent below the national average of $87,811.
- Financial Services
Local Employment and Research Resources
- Chicago Business Journal
- Chicago Tribune
- Crain’s Chicago
- Illinois Technology News – Technology Today
- Tech Cocktail Chicago
- Xconomy Chicago
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