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IT Trends: Must-Have Skills for Future Hires

Feature Article | June 18, 2015 by Andreas Schmitz

One in five IT positions filled by staffing firm Michael Page is for the tech trends Big Data, cloud computing, or the Internet of Things. What must-have skills are in demand?

Big Data scientist, cloud analyst, IOT cloud services architect, embedded systems manager — these are just some of the up-and-coming job titles in IT. Over 1,000 jobs in cloud computing, Big Data, and Internet of Things are posted per week on Germany’s online career portal Stepstone.

It’s getting harder to match qualifications to job titles.

Job titles have to be sexy

“Companies need job titles that sound sexy,” says IT recruitment expert Michael Wulf, who works for international recruitment consultancy Michael Page. “The less sexy the company, the better the job titles have to sound.”

No-one wants to be plain BI manager any more. These days, Big Data has to appear somewhere in the job title. If, as the European Commission forecasts, Europe will have a shortfall of 900,000 ICT professionals by 2020, image will be everything in the market for talent.

“Companies have to use the language of the people they want to hire,” says Bernd Boeckenhoff, director of the Academy Cube initiative. “Facebook and LinkedIn supply the latest buzzwords. You just have to turn them into a job title.”

Yet it is not just job titles that are changing, warns Boeckenhoff. “Right now, we are seeing a surge in demand for skills in certain technologies,” says Boeckenhoff, and names five of them:

1. Big Data

Smart processes help companies derive insights from large volumes of data better and faster than before. The challenge is how to create value for business departments, which means marketing the data internally. New business models are emerging as a result.

2. Cloud computing

Most companies are opting for a mix of on-premise and cloud applications. Businesses have to work out how to get the architecture right and how to deploy new technologies so that processes run smoothly.

3. Networking and security

Devices connected across the Internet can be controlled remotely – by legitimate users and by hackers. Which devices should we connect up and how? Where do we need extra security? What technology should we use to relay data?

4. Mobile applications

Mobile devices require new processes that have little in common with those for a PC. Hybrid apps, new services, and open standards: Mobile offers much more, and is developing rapidly.

5. Internet of Things

Till now, the use of smart machines has largely been confined to manufacturing, where data from sensors is used to forecast the service life of machine parts. Manufacturers have started selling service life rather than machines. Now more and more industries are discovering what the Internet of Things can do for them.

Over the past five years, one fifth of around 600 IT vacancies staffed by Michael Page has been for jobs in these trend areas. The mentality and approach these jobs require are not the only differences from conventional IT roles.

Top three in-demand skills

1. Thinking beyond IT

Candidates have to have the IT skills, know how sensor data is used, how cloud structures are set up, and how the on-premise world works. Yet soft skills are on the rise. Boeckenhoff gives the following example: “The ability to truly understand what users and business departments expect the applications to do and to work with them to find creative solutions.”

2. Self-governed learning

The Internet is now the place to go for professional development and to learn about new software. Massive open online courses (MOOC) enable participants to learn new technologies quickly and simply on the Internet. The openSAP platform offers free courses on the company’s innovations. Academy Cube aims to have 2,000 e-learning courses on its platform by 2017 to meet the demands of a growing market. The candidates of the future will be expected to pick up new IT skills fast.

3. Abstract thinking

Michael Wulf of recruiting consultant Michael Page says candidates for cloud computing jobs need to be good at abstract thinking. “From software as a service to platform as a service, candidates need to understand the source code and how the service as a whole works,” says Wulf. He believes that mathematicians and computer scientists are better suited to the IT jobs of the future than technicians with administrative skills.

People transitioning from other fields will still be able to get into IT but they will more likely be found in user experience, front end, and requirements engineering. In IoT, where machines and IT interface, engineering skills will be required as well. “The good old-fashioned degree still carries a lot of weight,” says Wulf.

Michael Wulf of Michael Page on IoT: “It’s about to really take off.”

Michael Wulf of Michael Page on IoT: “It’s about to really take off.”

Wulf believes that of all the IT trends, IoT is the one with the brightest future and greatest potential for growth: “Though IoT is not yet commonplace, rising demand for expertise shows it’s about to really take off.”

Sign up here for free SAP MOOC courses on openSAP. Among the courses on offer are:

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