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6 IT skills you'll need this year

Embrace these skills to be in demand this year

As the economy slowly begins to revive, organisations will be looking for IT pros with a mix of skills. We look at what you'll need to get ahead in 2010.

5. Security

Willmer sees a relationship between demand for security skills and the still-shaky economy.

"The biggest threat to companies is breaches by their own staff," he says.

"When you throw in changes to the staff and disgruntled employees losing their benefits or facing the threat of being laid off, you increase the chances of network fraud or security infringement."

Meanwhile, Cooke is concentrating on hiring people with cybersecurity skills.

"Ten years ago, we didn't worry - as leaders in our companies - about things like passwords," he says.

"Now we're making sure we support complex passwords. That's just a new reality."

Energy Northwest is looking for recent graduates who studied computer engineering and digital controls to help upgrade its manufacturing systems from analogue to digital.

"They need to understand how those systems should be protected, given the security world we're operating in," Cooke said.

Patterson thinks the trend toward including security features in network and storage devices will also affect the skills professionals need in this realm.

"I can't believe in the long term that you won't see companies like EMC or Cisco not embedding security into their devices," he says.

"We're going to need people who understand not just how to run things from a server or storage or network perspective, but also the security implications."

Security is an evergreen skill, according to Silver.

"If you know how to help keep your company's information secure, there will be a home for you forever," he says.

6. Business intelligence

Computerworld's survey respondents ranked business intelligence (BI) skills as number six in importance; for Kilgore, however, BI is a higher priority.

"Being a smaller midsize organisation, we're late to the game in BI," he says.

"We don't have the budget to do a year's worth of R&D; we have to be effective with it out of the gate."

Sullivan would like to find a data architect to help with Covidien's conversion from a nonstandard business intelligence system and miscellaneous reporting tools to an enterprise standard.

More important than a BI expert, though, are programmer/analysts who can relate the nitty-gritty of data tables, database joins and data structure to business requirements.

"That's what I'm finding is more valuable to us at this stage in getting BI established and used by the business," Sullivan says.

Meanwhile, at Scottrade, Patterson sees BI intertwined with web 2.0.

Whereas BI has traditionally been understood as a system that collects historical data and provides tools to analyse it, he says, he's now more interested in real-time BI that relies, for instance, on people entering competitive data into a wiki and providing that information almost instantaneously via a portal.

See also: ACS survey reveals IT workers are ‘hideously under-trained’

  1. IT pros willing to embrace these skills are sure to be in demand this year
  2. Programming/application development
  3. Help desk/technical support
  4. Security and business intelligence

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