Mixed signals 

For many IT professionals, a more pressing question than what technologies will be deployed in 2011 is how jobs and recruitment will be affected.

Happily, a relatively small proportion of respondents to the Effective IT Survey indicated that they plan to reduce IT staffing costs in the next 12 months (7.5%). That is in spite of the fact that many of those organisations that have done so in the past have found it to be an effective strategy (52.7%), and that it delivered the expected return on investment (40.1%).

There are tentative signs that the availability of IT jobs in the UK increased in the past year. Recruitment specialist Reed, for example, recently reported that the number of IT vacancies advertised in December 2010 grew by 23% from the previous year.

The UK IT jobs market is not out of the woods yet, however, as many organisations are still searching for opportunities to cut internal costs.

For example, the financial industry, one of the UK’s largest IT employers, will cut an estimated 45,000 jobs in the first
six months of the year, according to predictions from business lobby group the CBI. In October 2010, Lloyds Banking Group announced that it would be cutting 4,500 jobs from its IT and operations division by 2012, including 1,600 permanent roles.

And in the UK public sector, another significant IT employer, staffing cuts triggered by the government’s cost blitz have only recently started to kick in. This in part explains why Reed’s IT Job Index, which tracks new job creation, actually fell from November to December.

Skills in demand

It is not just the number of available vacancies that affects IT professionals, but also the skills and experience they will need in order to fill those roles in future.

Forrester Research recently surveyed 140 IT decision-makers (not necessarily from the UK) on whether or not they intend to hire new staff or train up existing employees in 2011. Among those that did, the most significant drivers were the need to improve IT execution (26%), improve the consistency of IT processes (22%), and support business growth (20%). This suggests IT professionals with experience of improving the efficiency of an IT function and helping it to support greater business volume will be in demand in 2011.

For CIOs and IT directors, living up to the requirements of the business in 2011 will be less about acquiring the correct skills as it will be about identifying the strategic challenges facing the organisation, and directing IT strategy to address them.

According to analyst company Gartner, the overarching concerns keeping CEOs awake at night include finding opportunities for growth, which CIOs can aid by supporting “e-commerce, e-service, social marketing, smartphone or location-based innovations to bolster new product and service launches”, and ensuring long-term sustainability. “CIOs should order high-level, long-term sustainability business systems and information architecture development plans,” it counsels. 

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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