The More Things Change: How IT Roles Are Shifting – And How They’re Not

Posted by BusinessForward Team on August 29th, 2016

bethanyGuest Blogger: Bethany Simon, Executive Vice President, OpenArc

You don’t have to read this to know that technology runs our lives. (I mean, your phone probably buzzed five times even while you read that first sentence.) As today’s tech continues to grow and evolve at lightning speeds, it presents more and more opportunity for both job seekers and the companies seeking them.

That speed also means that some IT roles (and rules) are very much in transition. Here are some trends that are changing the game – and some truths that still haven’t gone out of style.

Either/or? Try both/and.

Today’s IT professionals are entering the workplace more creative and ready to make a difference than ever before – and also working far more closely with the business side than ever before. Hybrid positions are fast becoming the new normal, especially in emerging and startup companies where dual roles are already common.

Here are a few positions that we’re seeing grow in popularity:

Business intelligence data analysts: IT pros that can help to make sense of and comprehensively analyze the data flood that has become commonplace for companies.

Software test engineers: Part software engineer and part QA analyst, these developers can write their own scripts – providing companies with customized coding even as testing becomes more automated.

Specialized sales reps: Folks on the sales side have to keep up with innovation too, and so we are increasingly seeing the need for reps that can explain highly technical and connected products and services.

With the growing number of companies aligning their marketing and technology goals, candidates with historically atypical backgrounds are also becoming much more mainstream. It doesn’t take much to notice the technical components creeping into today’s marketing positions: SEO, UI/UX, and marketing automation are fast becoming table stakes for all companies.

New avenues of opportunity abound – as companies find new ways every day to use technology to drive revenue, internal IT innovation and creativity are exploding. More and more, we’re finding that something your team hacked together to serve your unique needs or solve your business problems could lead to unexpected commercialization – and an unexpected return on investment.

CIOs: Now more than ever.

Over the past decade, the CIO role has transformed from a focus on infrastructure to a fully integrated part of the executive suite, heavily involved in the day-to-day business, direction, and vision of the company. The position’s equality of impact reflects a radically increased need and demand for technology from both customers and internal users – and the compatibility, usability, scalability, and security issues that come along with that. IT departments are no longer just there to keep the lights on and the wifi running – they have a hand in increasing top line revenue and decreasing expenses through automation and optimizing business processes and workflow. (A quick #humblebrag: OpenArc’s very own IT chief, Jonathan Colby, was recently named CIO of the Year by the Pittsburgh Technology Council!)

As much as CIOs are now required to understand the goals of multiple business units, people are starting to think that anyone with a business background can be a CIO. I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve seen companies promote these types to a CIO role and it almost never goes well. A successful CIO has to have the business savvy to sell their vision to the rest of the executive suite, but they also need the technical savvy to execute that vision with their team. It’s precisely that speed of innovation that has produced more executive change in the Pittsburgh region in the last 5-7 years than I’ve ever seen. In my (OpenArc) opinion, CIOs still need that heavy tech background – it’s just that nowadays it may come with an MBA as well.

The education gap is real, and it will impact your business.

New and emerging technology is a daily consideration in our field, and companies obviously want to stay ahead of the curve. Increasingly, this is creating a knowledge and understanding gap. From a staffing standpoint, software engineer is still the position in highest demand and still the most difficult to fill in terms of quality, but companies are beginning to face a general lack of professional experience with that new and emerging tech. As a matter of fact, a recent finding in the 2016 CIO Survey conducted by BusinessForward and the Pittsburgh Technology Council found that lack of talent was the biggest challenge faced by CIOs in the region.

The speed of technology and the speed of proficiency are not always equal. Now, experience normally translates to seniority – and senior developers and engineers remain in high demand – but some tech simply hasn’t been around that long. The amount of experience engineers can reasonably expect to have is a legitimate question, and as a result, there has never been a better time to be a young IT professional.

The stability and structure of larger organizations isn’t as appealing to younger workers as it once was, and digital nativism is helping this generation to dictate where they want to go and demand things that they simply couldn’t even 10 years ago. For a recruiter, this is where you really have to rely on your team and your training. OpenArc recruiters and managers are all certified behavioral interviewers – a fact that I’m proud of, but also that helps us drill down past a possible lack of experience to the candidate underneath.

Don’t throw out the rulebook just yet.

Oh, and that education gap? It goes both ways. Two words for you: mainframe technologies. They still haven’t gone away, and they’re not likely to anytime soon. In fact, and especially at larger companies, people are being pulled out of retirement at significantly increased rates just to get the work done because companies simply haven’t mentored younger workers in these areas. Adaptability is key, and that’s where we come in.

There are always hiring trends. There is always industry upheaval. Some things change, and some things don’t. Through it all, our mission at OpenArc remains to find rewarding careers for top tech talent. What sets us apart is paying attention  – educating companies and candidates as part of a long-term relationship is a vital value proposition for us. We are in the field every day, and we know what’s coming next. Skills that might be hard to find, but will soon become required resources. Our experts can guide that experience – and guide candidates and clients into their futures.

Bethany Simon, OpenArc’s executive vice president, is a natural-born disruptor with a gift for sensing opportunity and a passion for creating it. After experiencing much success in the staffing and recruiting industry early in her career, she came to realize that there wasn’t a space for the personal, customer-focused service that she wanted to provide – so she created one at OpenArc.



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BusinessForward Team

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