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8 hot IT skills for 2014

September 23, 2013 06:00 AM ET

6. Database Administration


24% of respondents said that they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Last year's ranking: Not ranked

Database administration -- which didn't even make last year's list -- will be hot in 2014, likely because of interest in big data. Kirven concedes that the term big data is a catch-all for everything companies want to do with the burgeoning stockpiles of information they store on internal systems and, increasingly, collect from sources such as social media sites, the Web and third parties. Much of the interest in big data originates in marketing, which wants to learn as much about customers as possible.

"Oracle DBAs, data architects -- these people stay on the market for about an hour until they're hired," Kirven says. "People are looking for that person who can build a logical data map of their systems and aggregate relevant data so they can analyze and report on it."

DBAs with experience moving pieces of the IT infrastructure to the cloud will be highly sought after, says Melland, noting that demand for cloud skills is up 32% from last year.

To help kick off PrimeLending's big data initiative, Elkins says he is seeking systems analysts, developers and DBAs to integrate data from third parties, with the goal of easing the mortgage process. "Mortgages have been like a big black hole, with a lack of transparency and a lot of sitting and waiting," Elkins says. "Our focus in 2014 is to give consumers more control and an experience with mortgages that they've never had before."

7. Security Compliance/Governance


21% of respondents said that they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Last year's ranking: No. 4

Security expertise seems to show up on every list of hot IT skills, and Melland says interest in cybersecurity will further drive demand, which is up 23% from last year. "It's one of those skills that falls into a lot of job types, like network engineering, software development and database architecture," he says. Respondents to a recent Robert Half Technology survey said security jobs are among the most challenging to fill, in addition to application development and database management positions.

With the increase in malware and cyberattacks, security has become a No. 1 priority for PrimeLending, which doubled its security staff this year, from four to eight people, Elkins says.

8. Business Intelligence/Analytics


18% of respondents said that they plan to hire for this skill in the next 12 months.
Last year's ranking: No. 5

With the volume of global data predicted to expand by a factor of 44 from 2009 to 2020 and reach 35.2 zettabytes, according to IDC, companies are eager to gain a competitive edge by developing sophisticated analytics capabilities. Although BI/analytics is still considered a specialty and therefore has fewer postings than other job categories on Dice.com, Melland says it's the third fastest-growing skill area on the website, and demand is up 100% from last year. Analytics expertise is scarce, ranking second among the most difficult skills to find in the Computerworld survey. Accordingly, these professionals command high salaries, often into the six figures, Melland says.

At Wolverine, management's demand for data-driven insights is growing, so Bland is looking for people with BI skills who are also familiar with the Plex Systems ERP application, which the company uses. "We would definitely like to get more information out of [our ERP] system, so someone with BI experience would be great," he says. "We'd like to provide more information in a more timely manner so the business can be more proactive." Hyatt, says Zoghlin, is similarly looking for people "who can make analytics usable and useful for customers and colleagues."

Forecast 2014

Looking Beyond Tech Skills When Hiring IT Workers

Technology skills aren't the only factor to consider when assessing candidates for IT jobs. Employers should also consider applicants' interpersonal skills to ensure new hires will be effective in the workplace. The two most important characteristics, according to the Computerworld Forecast survey, are the ability to collaborate (cited by 66% of the respondents) and the ability to communicate with business users (62%). This comes as no surprise to Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings. "So much technology is being used in every part of the organization that you need people who are good communicators," he says.

James Bland, network manager at Wolverine Advanced Materials, says those are skills he will seek in new hires. "I want to empower our users to know how IT can help them be more efficient and get their job done," he says, and that can happen only when IT helps translate systems capabilities into something the user can put to good use. "You can implement the best systems in the world, but if people don't understand what to do with them, they're useless," Bland says.

Lucille Mayer, CIO at BNY Mellon, says a customer-service mentality is a must. "Our IT department is called Client Technology Solutions, and every one of us has a client customer, whether it be internal or external," she says. "A service orientation and being customer-focused, collaborative and a great communicator is essential."

An important communication skill is speaking the language of various business domains, such as marketing, sales and finance, Melland says. In fact, according to Michael Kirven at Modis, employers are increasingly seeking people with knowledge of business disciplines in addition to tech skills, whether it's an HTML5 developer who understands the supply chain in retail or a Java developer with experience in financial derivatives trading systems. "Specialization can really drive innovation," he says.

At PrimeLending, it's all about cultural fit. "We hire for culture first," says CIO Tim Elkins. This is particularly true at the leadership level. "If we're going to hire a new manager, it's not just a matter of whether they're a good leader but whether they can adapt to our style," which Elkins calls "servant leadership" -- meaning leaders are called to serve, not order people around.

Mary Brandel

Next: Master disruptive technologies

Brandel is a Computerworld contributing writer. You can contact her at marybrandel@verizon.net.

Read more about Management in Computerworld's Management Topic Center.



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