Four Emerging Positions CIOs Need to Fill

CIO magazine’s latest cover story looks at the talent gaps in today’s IT departments and the four new roles that have CIOs on the hunt for fresh talent.

By Maryfran Johnson
Wed, February 23, 2011

CIO — As someone with a mild-to-moderate addiction to Bare Escentuals ­cosmetics, I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat while reading Kim S. Nash’s cover story (“Four Kinds of IT Professionals CIOs Need to Hire Now”).

For a fleeting moment, I wished I had the right stuff to apply for that $110,000-a-year senior Web developer job the company was advertising on Dice.com. I wanted to be that competitive weapon who could build a system “combining social networking and content management.” (More likely scenario: I’ll stick to buying eye shadow at the front end of the customer experience.)

Collaboration technologies and mobile apps that pave the way to new customers are all the rage in IT hiring, as Nash reports in this fascinating look ahead. She scopes out four emerging roles vital to your company’s success: hybrid experts in IT and business applications, cloud-vendor ­managers, data-analysis masters, and application designers steeped in social computing smarts.

When did IT jobs get such a glimmering appeal? It feels like it happened overnight, just as CIOs were conducting the final fire drills of the global recession. With the focus now swinging sharply toward growth again, CIOs like Frank Wander, of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, are moving aggressively to infuse the fresh skills needed for these consumer-driven technologies into IT. “You’ve got to get on top of this,” says Wander, whose Talent 2020 program is now inventorying Guardian Life’s IT expertise levels in all these emerging areas.

As part of our research for this story, we worked with MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research on a survey of 370 CIOs about the future of the IT organization (“Survey: More to IT Than Building and Running Systems”). We found many CIOs concerned about staffing gaps in social media, ­collaboration and mobile technologies.

Yet Jeanne Ross, the center’s director, sees something more profound happening here than talent shortfalls. She believes these hybrid IT-business roles signal a significant shift in the value proposition of the IT organization as it moves beyond the build-and-run model to an enhance-and-exploit role in the company’s overall business performance.

CIOs have a huge role to play here in shaping these new hybrids as they blur the lines between IT and the other business functions. Let us know what you’re doing to build the talent advantage at your company today.

Maryfran Johnson is the editor in chief of CIO Magazine & Events. E-mail her at mfjohnson@cio.com.

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