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The 11 must-have IT skills for 2011

Get the edge over other candidates

IT hiring will pick up slightly next year, and talented programmers and project managers will be at the starting line. We look at the skills you need to ensure you have the edge over other candidates.

8. Telecommunications

At Palmetto Health, Michelle Edwards wants to hire staff with skills in unified communications. The health care provider is seeking people who can design an infrastructure and integrate various communications tools, including instant messaging, IP phones and remote access.

"In a hospital, you have urgent needs for patient care, on-call needs and remote needs. We want to make sure we understand all those needs," as well as the security issues around those communications devices, says Edwards, senior vice president and CIO.

Some 16 percent of Computerworld's survey-takers who plan to hire said they will be looking for telecommunications skills into 2011.

9. Business intelligence

As data proliferates and IT departments look for ways to contribute to the company's profitability, business intelligence skills will be highly sought-after in 2011, according to 13 percent of survey respondents.

10. Collaboration architecture

Collaboration architecture expertise is high on Campbell Soup's list of hot skills, says Donna Braunschweig, senior director of IT, enterprise portfolio and strategy. The company constantly looks at "how we can help the end-user experience be better by understanding how things like portals, web and audio can integrate, and what does that need to look like to be able to have better collaboration across the company?" she says.

While most of Campbell's collaboration tools are hosted offerings from service providers, Braunschweig says she still needs employees who can manage those vendors and understand the technology.

11. Business acumen and communication skills

You won't find this in any IT job titles, but most companies in 2011 will seek IT employees who understand the business and can communicate technical concepts to business units and customers.

Campbell requires IT employees to have four types of competencies: business and financial acumen, functional depth, leadership skills and a global mind-set. "Sometimes people think of IT as just technical skills, and it's not," Braunschweig says.

At HealthAlliance, Thompson recruits IT staffers who can communicate well both orally and in writing.

"I also want to have a reference of someone who knows how you speak about IT issues to people who are not computer-savvy," she adds.

Overall, the outlook for 2011 remains volatile, and IT groups will need workers whose skills can help them adapt to rapidly changing market conditions. But as IT units move from a support role to a profitability model, "now they are able to move more quickly," Foote says. "I don't think the [IT] world is ever going to return to what it was in 2008, but it's a very positive thing."

See also: 6 IT skills you'll need this year

  1. Get the edge over other candidates
  2. Helpdesk/technical support
  3. Telecommunications

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