6 hottest IT skills for 2010

A slowly reviving economy will have organizations hiring in a few key areas, looking for IT pros with a mix of skills

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Energy Northwest is looking for recent graduates who studied computer engineering and digital controls to help upgrade its manufacturing systems from analog to digital. "They need to understand how those systems should be protected, given the security world we're operating in," Cooke says, citing new federal regulations and threat warnings emanating from the Department of Homeland Security.

Patterson thinks the trend toward including security features in network and storage devices will also affect the skills professionals need in this realm. "I can't believe in the long term that you won't see companies like EMC or Cisco not embedding security into their devices," he says. "We're going to need people who understand not just how to run things from a server or storage or network perspective, but also the security implications."

Security is an evergreen skill, according to Silver. "If you know how to help keep your company's information secure, there will be a home for you forever," he says.

6. Business Intelligence

Computerworld's survey respondents ranked business intelligence skills as No. 6 in importance; for Kilgore, however, BI is a higher priority. "Being a smaller midsize organization, we're late to the game in BI," he says. "We don't have the budget to do a year's worth of R&D; we have to be effective with it out of the gate."

Sullivan would like to find a data architect to help with Covidien's conversion from a nonstandard business intelligence system and miscellaneous reporting tools to an enterprise standard. More important than a BI expert, though, are programmer/analysts who can relate the nitty-gritty of data tables, database joins and data structure to business requirements. "That's what I'm finding is more valuable to us at this stage in getting BI established and used by the business," Sullivan says.

Meanwhile, at Scottrade, Patterson sees BI intertwined with Web 2.0. Whereas BI has traditionally been understood as a system that collects historical data and provides tools to analyze it, he says, he's now more interested in real-time BI that relies, for instance, on people entering competitive data into a wiki and providing that information almost instantaneously via a portal.

Brandel is a Computerworld contributing writer. Contact her at marybrandel@verizon.net.

Next: Budget tips for the new year

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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