Career watch: corporate IT departmental changes

According to Kevin Knaul, executive vice president of Hudson IT & Telecommunications North America, corporate IT departments are shrinking and will continue to do so over the next few years. Companies will be boosting their IT investments, however, with CIOs increasingly filling internal positions with project managers and business analysts, two critical roles that can't be outsourced. Knaul expects that few people will be able to submit a resume to a company and land a job. Instead, they will turn to firms that specialize in placing skilled IT talent. Long-term employment with a single company is going to be a thing of the past, he says. While the work will be there, professionals may be placed on multiple projects with a number of employers over the course of a relatively short period of time. Jamie Eckle spoke to Knaul about what the future may hold.

What is driving the change in IT departments?

IT departments are increasingly being expected to impact the bottom line and support overall business objectives. To ensure that happens, there is constant collaboration and communication between the tech department and the business to manage the progress of these projects and to make necessary adjustments as the business strategy evolves. With that, CIOs are reporting to the CFO rather than the CEO, and professionals who can translate business strategy into IT solutions are essential.

Hudson describes what sounds like a nomadic existence for IT workers in the years ahead. Will this lead to further decline in computer science enrollments?

While some individuals with certain skill sets, such as software developers, will have to cope with a "nomadic existence," professionals can align themselves with a service provider to gain an in-demand specialization. Also, by getting fully entrenched in an organization and learning to bridge the gaps between business strategy and IT function, professionals can take their careers down a path that is anything but nomadic.

Despite the changing landscape, opportunities are just as [attractive] as they have ever been. Not only are increases in IT spending creating a buzz, but businesses are deeply affected by their information systems and technology. There is still something alluring about being able to solve business problems by thinking outside of the box to come up with a technical solution. Plus, universities are shifting to accommodate the evolving job market. Students are no longer just taught technical skills, but business analytics or business intelligence programs educate them on how to leverage IT as a component of the business strategy.

Some people like the idea of staying with one company for a long time. Will there be a glut of project managers and business analysts anytime soon?

While there will always be workers who enjoy staying with one employer for a longer period of time, Hudson's research has found that workplace trends are going in the other direction. In fact, a recent Hudson survey found that 50 percent of the workforce expect to leave their jobs within five years. That figure jumps to 64 percent for workers ages 18 to 29. Nevertheless, the current demand for project managers and business analysts far outpaces the supply, and we do not expect that imbalance to change until there is a sufficient pool of professionals with business and IT competencies.

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