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Looking Ahead: Hot IT Skills for 2015

When executive editor Brett Bartow at PITC occasionally suggests a blog topic, I'm always all ears. This time, he pointed me at a recent Network World story entitled "10 Hottest IT Skills for 2015," a November 18, 2014 story from Mary K. Pratt of sister publication Computer World. I'm always curious to know what's on the radar, so I read the story with some interest, and will share some high points with you here.

To begin with, Ms. Pratt reports on some cheery statistics about IT employment for next year. She indicates that almost one-fourth of companies surveyed (24%) plan to add new IT headcount next year. Surprisingly this is down from percentages in the low thirties for the two preceding years (doubly so, in the face of a recent stockmarket boomlet, and ever-more-ebullient business and hiring forecasts).

The survey says some interesting things about upcoming hiring for 2015, but some of its elements are entirely predictable [Shutterstock 157075502]

The 194 IT executives who responded to the publication's survey also provided the data upon which the Top 10 IT Skills list for 2015 was based. Here's what it looks like:

1. Programming/app development: 48% said they plan to fill slots in this area in 2015. This category also placed first for 2014 as well.

2. Project management: 35% said they plan to hire PMs in 2015. This category moved up from fifth place in 2014.

3. Help desk/technical support: 30% will fill help desk or tech support positions in 2015. This category moved down from second place in 2014.

4. Security/compliance governance: 28% of respondents will hire security or compliance/governance staff in 2015. This category moved up three slots, up from seventh place in 2014.

5. Web development: 28% of IT execs professed a need for web development professionals in 2015; this category was not ranked in last year's top 10.

6. Database administration: 26% of those polled said they would hire database professionals in 2015; this category was ranked exactly the same last year as well (sixth place).

7. Business intelligence/analytics: 24% of execs plan to hire specialists in business intelligence and/or analytics for 2015. This category advanced one slot for 2015, up from eighth place in last year's survey.

8. Mobile apps/device management: 24% of the polled IT execs plan to hire into this skillset for 2015, reflecting the increasing trend of BYOD in today's organizations. Surprisingly, this number slid from fourth place in last year's survey.

9. Networking: 22% of those surveyed indicated they would hire networking professionals in 2015. This category dropped all the way from third place in the preceding survey.

10. Big data: 20% of the population said they plan to fill open positions in this category for 2015. It was just outside these rankings in last year's survey, in 11th place overall.

My opinion is that there are a few ringers in this list, even though most of the entries it contains are genuinely hot in the marketplace. I believe that help desk/tech support, networking, and database administration jobs fall rather more into the evergreen or "bread-and-butter" classification in IT, in that many (if not most) organizations need to maintain staff in these categories so that IT can do its job, and provide the services and capabilities that its parent organizations need and deserve.

Of the other items mentioned, I'm surprised to see mobile app development and device management fall so far in the rankings, and to see business intelligence/analytics and big data polling as low in the list as they did. But it's always nice to get something of a reality check from the business community, to see how what sounds hot or interesting plays out as it's manifested in actual marketplace demand. That's what always makes these surveys interesting to me, and hopefully to you as well.