Four Kinds of IT Professionals CIOs Need to Hire Now

Developers of mobile, social media and collaboration apps. Business experts. Cloud-vendor managers. Masters of unstructured data. Why these IT professionals are essential to maintaining your company’s competitive edge.

Social networking savvy. Mobile development experience. Business process smarts. Cloud management expertise.

Thanks to rapidly changing technology and evolving business expectations, the skills you need on staff to outcompete your rivals are morphing around you. If you don’t hire right, you won’t be ready for the future.

Already, that’s clear. CIOs see some serious holes in the competencies of their IT groups and their companies generally, according to a joint survey of 370 IT leaders by CIO magazine and the MIT Center for Information Systems Research (CISR). The biggest gaps are in social media, collaboration and mobile technology. Forty-four percent of CIOs said their companies lack collaboration expertise; just 8 percent named collaboration as a formal enterprise capability. Meanwhile, 27 percent said they lack expertise in evaluating mobile, tablet and other new technologies. (For more on this survey, see "Survey: More to IT Than Building and Running Systems.")

Yet pressure is mounting to design and deploy systems that use social media and collaboration technologies and that can be accessed by employees anywhere. Meanwhile, most organizations struggle to make sense of the data tsunami crashing over them. Adding to the tumult is the movement among companies emerging from the recession to revamp business processes in order to compete better, says Jeanne Ross, director and principal research scientist at MIT CISR. IT’s value has frequently been measured by how well systems are built and maintained, but the dominant metrics in the future will be how well employees use systems to find new customers, make better decisions faster, and drum up new revenues, Ross says.

While CIOs have always had to anticipate—and staff for—technology and business shifts, change now comes faster, says Frank Wander, CIO of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. “You’ve got to get on top of this.”

Not only are Wander and other CIOs restructuring their IT groups, they’re also working closely with other departments to let business-unit staff with strong technology skills, as well as their own IT people, migrate between groups as critical projects using new technologies arise. But no one’s sure what the winning staff formula will be.

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