The way we communicate and access information is changing rapidly, both at work and in our personal lives. The “information age” is blooming as our surroundings, belongings and interactions become increasingly digitised, data-driven and interconnected. These trends are having a noticeable effect on the way businesses use technology. In turn, this is affecting staffing requirements in IT organisations with job descriptions constantly evolving and new titles and roles cropping up regularly.
For almost a decade, the Windows / Office XP operating environment was common to most organisations. We have enjoyed a decade of fairly stable office computing environments. It’s therefore not surprising that Vista failed to gain any real traction. The big changes to the look and feel of Office 2007 contributed to the break down of relative office uniformity. With Microsoft’s support for Windows XP coming to an end in 2014, urgency is setting in for many large organisations to standardise operating environments and to upgrade to Windows 7. These large workspace programmes have created plenty of work opportunities across the board, especially for Business Analysts and Applications Packagers.
The basic tools that businesses and consumers use to interact with each other are currently driving some major behavioural shifts. With PC sales last quarter dropping by 14% it is anticipated that more than one-third of the conventional PC market is on the verge of being replaced by smart phones and tablets in the coming year. This trend shows no signs of abating. By 2014, it is predicted that mobile internet usage will overtake traditional desktop usage. The flourishing ecosystem of cheap mobile apps and increasing processing power has turned phones not only into engaging social entertainment tools but also viably productive business devices. There has also been a drastic shift from traditional advertising and marketing to more digital based media to target the consumers’ changing focus. Collectively, this has driven a great increase in demand for Software Developers with new skill-sets around native Android and iOS development. Additionally, there is a growing emphasis on the importance of adaptive / responsive web front-ends to enable an engaging experience on any device.
As businesses look for new ways to scale back on overheads and infrastructure costs, they are turning increasingly to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and other cloud-based computing solutions. As the economy recovers and growth resumes, these solutions provide the means for great flexibility and low-cost, on-demand scalability. This is particularly evident with the proliferation of Google Apps and cloud storage services such as Dropbox or Microsoft’s SkyDrive. With this increasing adoption of cloud technologies and SaaS solutions, we are seeing new roles focused on cloud administration and cloud-oriented development.
Social networks have evolved rapidly from the more anonymous, youth oriented networks of the mid-2000’s such as MySpace and Bebo, to the point where it seems uncommon for anyone to not have a genuine personal online profile where they share the intimate details of their lives. In contrast to their predecessors, the most popular social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn focus primarily on enriching and enabling ‘real world’ connections, connecting a much broader audience of not only personal users but corporate and political groups. The increased marketing potential and accountability that comes from companies engaging in such personal and public communication channels has led to new roles for social media communications professionals, and increasing demand for designers / developers with experience in building integrated, social media-focused marketing solutions.
Finally, with all this personal information “flying about”, businesses are exceptionally keen to make some strategic sense of it. Consequently, business intelligence moves to new levels as organisations look inwards, to make sense of the information they have and to assess their strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. The drive to collect raw business data, interpret information from that data and then use these findings to make informed business decisions, is driving the trend towards the Super Reports Analyst. While large organisations can accommodate specific roles for BI Specialists and Information Architects, small organisations tend to put the reporting onus on the person responsible for administering the databases. In both cases the roles demand an even mix of business analysis and technical report creation skills. After all is said and done, collecting the information is only half the story, what you then do with it is what really matters.
These are only five of the obvious current trends which we are seeing. With the abundance of new technology, things are quickly changing, both in how we conduct business and how we connect to people outside of work.