Tech Departments in 2010: Hot Jobs, Cold Skills

The IT department of the near future will be filled with 'versatilists,' those with a technology background, but who also know the business sector.

The most sought-after corporate IT workers in 2010 may be those with no deep-seated technical skills at all. The nuts-and-bolts programming and easy-to-document support jobs will have all gone to third-party providers in the U.S. or abroad. Instead, IT departments will be populated with "versatilists" -- those with a technology background who also know the business sector inside and out, can architect and carry out IT plans that will add business value, and can cultivate relationships both inside and outside the company.

That's the general consensus of three research groups that have studied the IT workforce landscape for 2010 -- the year that marks the culmination of the decade of the versatile workforce. What's driving these changes? Several culprits include changes in consumer behavior, an increase in corporate mergers and acquisitions, outsourcing, the proliferation of mobile devices and growth in stored data.

What's more, the skills required to land these future technical roles will be honed outside of IT. Some of these skills will come from artistic talents, math excellence or even a knack for public speaking -- producing a combination of skills not commonly seen in the IT realm.

On the edges of this new world, expertise in areas such as financial engineering, technology and mathematics will come together to form the next round of imaginative tools and technologies. Google Inc., eBay Inc. and Yahoo Inc. are already hiring math, financial analysis, engineering and technology gurus who will devise imaginative algorithms to fulfill users' online needs. And the National Academy of Sciences has identified a budding area of expertise that combines technology capabilities with artistic and creative skills, such as those found in computer gaming.

Diane Morello, an analyst at Gartner Inc.

Closer to home, "the most effective workforce will be outward-focused, business-driven competency centers," says Diane Morello, an analyst at Gartner Inc. and author of the report "IT Professional Outlook."

"They might be competency centers formed around mergers and acquisitions," she explains. "People in IT might be involved in information integration and systems integration, customer service or some really smart ways where companies can leverage scarce and high-value talent that tend to get dismantled at the end of every project. People will be geographically distributed -- so [they'd] better be adaptable and [able to] work with people on teams that [they] don't know." Project management and application development skills -- "whether for service providers, software developers or IT organizations -- are characteristics that will be absolute" in 2010, Morello adds.

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