General IT Industry Trends Tips

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What can IT pros do to advance their careers?

Viewing Challenges as Opportunities Has Its Advantages

With less staff and fewer dollars, today's information technology departments are feeling more pressure than ever before. Businesses are closely evaluating the performance of their technology professionals and keeping an eye on personnel who perform well in these lean times. For tech staff looking to advance their IT career paths, those that will reap the benefits will be the ones that are able to view current challenges as opportunities. It is a perfect time to focus on strategic goals of the overall organization and open discussions amongst the various corporate departments to determine how IT can help. Today, technology permeates all aspects of business in substantive ways. Forced to do more with less and with greater pressure for measurable return on investment, IT pros must be mindful of the company's expectations and be able to manage them accordingly when embarking on any new technology initiatives. Specifically, they need to make smart decisions when determining what IT capabilities or improvements to pursue and be willing to pass on those projects that will not meet company objectives.

How are budgetary restrictions affecting IT?

Tight Budgets Fueling Demand for SaaS

For technology professionals who are looking to stay abreast of the latest trends in the IT career field, now more than ever there are many changes afoot. In fact, organizations are completely re-evaluating how they do business, from budgetary expenditures to production processes, to revenue stream expectations. In an effort to find new, cheaper and more effective alternatives, companies are turning to IT departments to help find ways to support these goals. Recent studies by a number of sources have found that for many, the answer to meeting these objectives is an increased reliance on managed services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions. Research from analyst company, Gartner, predicts that the SaaS market will show consistent growth through 2013 with worldwide SaaS revenue totaling out at $16 billion for the enterprise application markets. The adoption rate has found to be particularly high in small to midsized businesses.

Budget cutbacks and tight funding restrictions were found to be the key factor to the widespread acceptance. Another compelling cause has been the growing concern of companies dealing with more stringent compliance requirements and software-license regulatory issues.

What factors are driving the increased popularity of cloud computing?

Cloud Computing – Changing the Web Development Landscape

There are several factors contributing to the growth in popularity of cloud computing. IT professionals in web development jobs are facing increased pressure to reduce costs and increase the scalability of their offerings. Consequently, more IT personnel in web development jobs are turning to the cloud for solutions. Offering a wide variety of affordable options with flexible tools and processes, this venue allows for dynamic changes and greater collaboration. On-demand resources are readily available and can be shared across corporate divisions, teams, and departments. Progress on project milestones can be tracked more readily and be adjusted on the fly as needed.

Tech personnel looking to excel in this arena should familiarize themselves with key tools and principles required for development in the cloud. For instance, it is important for principal stakeholders involved with the project to have not only access to view its progress, but also have the ability to make changes without having to replicate data.

What challenges do IT Business Analysts face?

Business Analysts Face Challenging Role

The role of the IT Business Analyst is a challenging one to say the least, as one of their primary responsibilities involves uncovering corporate inefficiencies. Not only do IT Business Analysts need to be diplomatic in the way they reveal and report the areas that require improvement, they must also be strategic in the solutions they suggest to address the problem. In recommending new processes, it is important to focus on the facts and highlight potential opportunities. It is highly likely that they will encounter resistance, as there is often an inherent resistance to change, but managing positive change is the hallmark of a talented Business Analyst. They must remain calm regardless of the responses of others and resist getting pulled into company politics. It is essential to keep open, honest, and effective communication channels flowing between the appropriate stakeholders. Being able to provide a balanced understanding of the opposing needs of various company departments can be one of the greatest values these individuals can provide.

What are the expectations for IT spending in the future?

A Glimmer of Hope on the IT Spending Horizon

While cost cutting initiatives remain as the top priority of CIOs for the near future, some industry experts are predicting a resurgence of IT spending on the horizon. A survey from Computer Economics revealed that 45 percent of IT executives were planning increases in their IT operational budgets for 2009, while an additional 17 percent noted that their IT spending would remain stable. For many, it is quite heartening to know that not everyone is focusing solely on reducing technology resources and funding. In fact, the research found that the second most vital spending priority for CIOs was to leverage IT for strategic business advantage.

Therefore, individuals in the IT career field would bode well to keep these trends in mind. A vast majority of IT career opportunities will be associated with these two primary business goals. Organizations will need high quality IT professionals that can assist them in implementing and maintaining technology solutions that increase efficiency and offer cost effective business solutions.

How has the current economic situation affected IT security careers?

Demand for IT Security Remains Strong

In spite of uncertain and turbulent economic activity, professionals in the IT career field have fared considerably better than their non-tech counterparts. The unemployment rate for most IT job categories has been lower than that of the overall unemployment rate. This is because businesses realize the value that technology can bring to their organizations. And in many cases, companies are relying on the expertise of IT professionals to help them maintain the profitability and integrity of their businesses.

One example is the growing importance of IT security. Unfortunately, slowing sales and dwindling profits have forced many organizations to endure layoffs and in the midst of the consequential turmoil, they have been forced to prepare for a possible increase in unsavory activities. Therefore, many have had to reinforce tech security measures to ensure the protection of their corporate data. As a result, the demand for capable and reliable IT security professionals who can assist in developing comprehensive security plans has remained strong.

When can we expect the tech market to rebound?

IT Professionals Should Be Prepared for Revitalization of the Tech Markets

Reports from IT research firm Forrester estimate that tech markets will begin to recover in the last quarter of 2009. Furthermore, they expect slow, but positive year-over-year growth will begin occurring in the early part of 2010.

That means that those in the IT career field should begin to look beyond the downturn and get prepared for recovery. As the economy continues to improve, industry experts predict large scale hiring will take place in a wide array of IT job categories. Many projects were shelved when budgets were frozen or cut and as these funds are freed, there will be a backlog of IT initiatives that will once again be brought online. However, employers will still have the ability to be choosy and will undoubtedly take their time in the employment process. IT staffing companies, such as Sapphire Technologies, have reported that employers are willing to wait to hire only those who have the combination of skills, experience and certifications that they deem essential. And this trend is expected to continue.

How has the role of Business Analysts changed?

The Role of Business Analysts is Changing

One of the most consistently in demand roles in the information technology field over the past several years has been that of the IT Business Analyst. As companies increasingly meld technology into nearly every aspect of business, company management has grown to understand and experience the value that skilled IT Business Analysts can bring to their organization. These individuals straddle the line between the technology side of organizations and the business units helping to ensure that common goals are met in an efficient and effective manner. But as with most functions, with the changing economic landscape, this role is undergoing a metamorphosis. Businesses are striving to find ways to increase proficiency and as such have come to adopt Lean and Agile methodologies on a large scale. While strong communication and collaboration skills are still essential, it has now become equally important for tech professionals in this IT career path to also have knowledge of these concepts and processes.

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