IT professionals should feel empowered to drive their own career growth

2016 is a game-changing year for skilled IT professionals, writes David Jones, senior managing director at specialist recruiter Robert Half

David Jones, senior managing director at Robert Half Asia Pacific

David Jones, senior managing director at Robert Half Asia Pacific

With IT no longer viewed as a cumbersome contraption that businesses are obliged to have, technology is now perceived as key driver of innovation and business development. Growth-focused companies now have a new standard: comprehensive, measurable, data-driven understanding of business or, as it is now called, business intelligence.

As the IT landscape transforms to one of business-centricity, IT professionals will see a positive market shift in the volume and types of roles being offered. Those looking to progress in their roles will find compelling support to convince management to invest more in their development. Put simply, 2016 is a year of opportunity for skilled IT professionals.

New raft of IT positions in demand

As Australian companies embark on transformation projects to improve Business Intelligence and harness the power of big data, business analysts (BAs) are in demand. BAs need to understand the landscape of transition from legacy technology and thinking to contemporary, data-centric commerce.

As business and technology silos disappear, BAs must understand and communicate new dynamic structures. CIOs will expect BAs to be abreast of new business-focused, tech-sector thinking.

Support analysts are in increasingly high demand. According to the 2015 HDI Support Center Practices & Salary Report, support demand has increased in almost two-thirds of support centres. Employees and clients alike expect round-the-clock, round-the-world access to business technology and data, meaning there is an increased reliance on Support Analysts to minimise disruptions.

As companies recognise the potential of technology to empower employees and support their clients, software developers are in demand. Companies are increasingly investing in specialised software to drive business growth, which means a proliferation in Software Developer roles.

IT project managers (PMs) are also highly desirable in 2016. As businesses transform legacy systems to new Business Intelligence focused architectures, PMs are required to navigate the inherent challenges in implementing these new technologies. And the demands on PMs are high. Today’s PM is the liaison between IT and the rest of the business - a translator, a negotiator, a diplomat and a human interface, implementing business goals in the context of IT capabilities.

In a world of Big Data, IT security has never been more important. According to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute (2015), the average cost of a data breach to an Australian business is $2.82 million. What’s more, the threat of hacks, data losses and service disruptions are increasingly in the public eye. Public awareness is driving CIOs to hire IT Security professionals to mitigate the short and long term risks of data security breaches.

Systems engineers and systems administrators can expect their skills to be in demand in 2016. Business leaders have never been more aware of the importance in having efficient systems to drive business performance. Cloud technologies and business reliance on Big Data mean Systems Engineers and Administrators are under greater pressure to deploy and maintain platforms to power the business forward.

Increased integration drive IT professionals to up-skill

The rapid pace of technological change makes it essential for all IT professionals to remain ahead of industry developments. The most sought-after candidates are familiar with new software and hardware, have an understanding of emerging systems, and are able to confidently use devices and related applications.

As IT professionals become an integral part of the business, IT professionals with strong soft skills are increasingly in demand. They need to be excellent communicators and be able to sell their business solutions outside of their own spheres of operation. The most successful IT professionals will be those who build successful relationships with internal and external clients.

In a candidate-driven market, staff retention strategies are critical

The race for IT talent doesn’t simply mean drafting in new recruits. Talent retention is also a key priority for hiring managers, as they work to develop efficient staff retention strategies.

2016 brings many opportunities for skilled IT professionals who should feel empowered to drive their own career growth.

David Jones is senior managing director at specialist recruiter Robert Half.

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