Demand for IT talent changes every year. In the 70s, mainframes were the talk of the town, and people who could manage and develop them were invaluable. Today, although many financial institutions leverage mainframes for their data safekeeping, these skills aren’t as desirable. In the same vein, people don’t really care about super fast computers anymore, as they did 15 years back. It’s all optimization and collaboration.
So, what is a hot skill? I tried lurking around the web for answers and spoke to a number of IT professionals for the definition. On the internet, hot skills are derived by recruitment firms and job portals mainly, and the deduction is based on demand. Skills are ranked based on the open and closed positions for roles requiring particular skills.
I have a problem with this approach. First, it varies from one geography to another. Every country has its own set of demands. So, basing it on demand is inaccurate if we are trying to define universal hot skills. For instance, in the Philippines, where almost all global corporations are setting up their call centers, there is a high demand for call center professionals. Does that mean that it’s a hot skill? I don’t think so.
To me, a hot skill is the talent for which employers are willing to go out of their way to keep staff under their payroll, either directly or indirectly. It has no connection with the open positions in the job market or the number of heads working under the same banner of a technology.
Computer World took a different approach. They surveyed a small sample of IT executives to find out what they thought were the hot skills for the coming year. Although the sample size was small, the survey predictions look accurate. I have used the list as my base to find the top 10 IT skills for 2013. My research builds further on this based on my interactions with several IT professionals who are in management positions at global corporations. Here’s the list:
1. Software Development
Software development is an automatic choice in terms of IT streams that will be deemed hot in the coming year. I suspect the No. 1 position will not change for at least a decade.
Although web and mobile applications are rising steadily, they still have their set of limitations, which puts software ahead of the rest of the pack.
Software maintenance, which requires the same skillsets, is another important role. Yet, employers will not have the same level of enthusiasm for maintenance as software development.
2. Mobile Development
Mobile applications are springing out from everywhere, just the way Windows apps mushroomed in the last 20 years. There is a clear demand from consumers for applications, especially for iPhones. I foresee Objective C, X Code and iOS development being the top preferred languages for the coming year.
3. Web Development
Yes, the top three in our list go the programming way. Web development has been rising steadily and it will continue to do so. The use of JSON data and programming in HTML5 will lead the way.
4. Information Security
Information security is evergreen. It will never run out of steam even if you have the best of the firewalls developed and deployed. Hackers always find a way to get through it if not around it.
An integration of software and web development is Cloud/SAAS. This synergy is the future, which will empower collaboration and reduce localization. Most companies have jumped on the bandwagon and started offering paid and free cloud storage and web software applications. Others who are not in the fray yet are busy making plans to enter the market, which has yet to be dominated. There is plenty of scope for further optimization and development, which will make this a sought-after skill.
6. Network Management
Network management is yet another evergreen technology that won’t be taken off this list for years to come. In modern times, it is not much about the topology and architecture but rather the tying up with information security to make it robust and vulnerability free.
7. Service Management
Around 10 years back, service management was hardly heard of in the IT industry. Today, no IT organization would dare to provide service to its customers or end-users without the aid of management frameworks such as ITIL® and COBIT. And the ISO20k and ISO27k1 certification badging gives credibility to IT organizations, which works in their favor when pitching for new contracts. To accomplish the certifications and smooth running of IT processes, a mix of coordinators, managers and consultants are necessary.
There is a definite crunch of resources and to overcome the shortfall, the IT world leverages on logical platforms – be it hardware, software or storage. Virtualization is the transcendent of optimization, and this technology is the key to future success for all organizations. Associated technologies such as VMWare will be deployed to overcome the space crunches and support cutbacks that are plaguing the IT industry.
9. Extract, Transform and Load (ETL)
In the age of information, data is everything, and this dependency brings ETL to the forefront. ETL deals with databases, and as we are aware, the amount of data generated is exponentially increasing. This increase results in the problem of finding an upgrade to the older databases, moving it from one location to another and so on. The solution to the data overload is ETL, and it will be one of the major players in the coming decade, and definitely in the year to come.
10. Business Intelligence (BI)
A business that does not grow withers away over time. For it to rise, it needs to leverage on the maturity it has gained over the years and innovate to stay ahead of the pack. This is where business intelligence comes in, and can do the job nicely for companies to look one step ahead. This makes BI one of the top skills for 2013, and for years to come. This skill predominantly looks at quality BI professionals rather than building a volume-based BI team.
Related: See our 5 top IT Certifications of 2013.
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