By Vincent Capasso
While IT spending might have softened over the last few years, skilled IT leaders are still in demand. According to Gartner, global spending is below its peak but ended 2011 stronger than in 2010. Spending on technology and infrastructure is strong in several areas including both advanced data analysis tools and iPads.
CIOs and businesses are looking to technology investments to help them cut costs throughout the organization. As a result, the best of CIOs and senior IT leaders with these types of experiences are in demand.
The CIOs, CTOs, and IT directors who report to them, continue to play an increasingly critical role in establishing and executing business strategy. This is true at both medium and large sized organizations even where the CIO may not be a board member or report directly to the CEO.
The primary reason some CIOs are in demand is not surprising - they simply have the right mix of experience for a changing world of IT challenges.
This demand is also driven by long term changes in the fundamental ways companies conduct their business. More organizations are conducting e-commerce online and the use of social media is of growing importance when it comes to dealing with their customers.
We recently reported that IT job growth is projected to grow across the board in 2012, not just at the CIO level.
Recent Trends in the CIOs Job Prospects
Organizations are not just competing against each other for qualified tech professionals, they are contending with an ever widening talent gap fed by the mass exodus of baby boomer retirees. This poses a huge challenge for business as they scramble to adopt new flexible technologies that support the agile and flexible enterprise. For those select CIOs with the right skill-sets, this should come as good news.
Some CIOs are finding their jobs upgraded to that of COO and some senior managers with strong IT skills are also finding roles in fields such as operations, marketing, and distribution.
Successful CIOs need to focus their technology selections to be sure that they are aligned to changes in consumer behaviour and most CEOs realize that technology is about making sure the company consistently engages with customers.
There has been a shift in what organizations value in a CIO as a technology leaders over the past five years. The focus is now as much on “emotional intelligence” (defined as is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups) as well as a deep knowledge of IT.
Throughout most of the IT organization over the last five years there has been an effective “hollowing out” of the IT management structure. We have seen layers of middle management removed while at the more junior levels, IT jobs have either been outsourced to vendors and consultants, moved to off-shore providers, or simply replaced by simpler technology and automation.
We have seen a consolidation of hardware and technical functions as IT workers are taking on many tasks formerly assigned to a specific few. Fewer workers are working longer hours while being paid less in many cases. When this happens over an extended period of five years the result is a net decrease in numbers of workers. Many will argue the result of this trend will eventually lead to some serious quality issues in the organization, especially in the area of information security.
Additionally, there is a split between those who can advise on what technology is best for a business, and those who have a deep understanding of technology itself. This trend, though, has not yet affected the earnings and prospects of the most senior IT managers. But it is affecting the skills they need to demonstrate.
In some areas such as information security and information analytics, advanced technical skills are required. But for other IT managers, employers are now looking more for skills in communication, project management, and handling an ever more diverse range of IT suppliers.
The situation is likely to become more drastic over time. There is a growing gap between the demand for IT professionals at all levels and the supply of new talent coming into the industry.
The gap is driven by the number of baby boomers who are retiring versus the number of entry level personnel entering the profession. This situation has been well documented over the last five years. An example of this includes the discussions surrounding the "Mainframe Brain Drain" scenario. Many of the experienced IBM mainframe administrators will be retiring in the coming decade and there are few experienced IT professionals to replace them.
Please see a related discussion on the Mainframe Brain Drain.
Here is a snippet from that forum, "In a recent, informal survey from a CICS Listserver the average age of CICS System Programmer Respondents was 52 with a median age of 56. 60% of repondents stated that they would NOT recommend information systems as a carreer path for candidates in career develpoment programs regardless of platform. With 90% of Fortune 500 companies and a large unmeasurable part of national and state governmeants dependent on IBM Mainframe systems - How does IT Management plan to deal with the shortage in Mainframe workers going forward."
The fact is that enrollment in computer science courses is down in both the US and Europe. This is mostl likely due to the weak demand for these talents over the last decade or so. Outsourcing and off-shoring have diminished the size of the talent pool, and the farm system is smaller then it ever has been.
Finding the combination of “visionary CIO” with the need to maintain day-to-day operations and control costs means drawing from an even smaller talent pool. Some businesses are responding by bringing non-IT managers into senior IT posts, and encouraging more movement between business and IT.
In the short term, some organizations are plugging the gap by relying more heavily on consultants and contractors. But this can be expensive, and does not always provide the hands-on technology leadership businesses need to improve operations.
Whether the CIO is reporting to the CEO, COO, or CFO, senior IT staff are increasingly involved with developing new products and services and bringing them to market.
Published by myITview.com
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