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9/13/2005
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Business And Industry Knowledge Will Be A Priority For IT Staffs In 2008

Society for Information Management study finds that about one-third of IT staff positions will be outsourced within three years.

Understanding business domains, industry knowledge, and client-facing skills will be more critical for in-house IT staff over the next three years, while the importance of programming, operations, and help-desk skills will decline as such jobs are increasingly outsourced, according to preliminary findings of a survey of senior IT and human-resources executives by the Society for Information Management.

The study also found that by 2008, one-third of IT staff positions at large and small companies will be outsourced, up from about one-quarter today.

The preliminary findings of the study, "IT Workforce Developments, Now And Into The Future," were released this week at SIMposium, the Society for Information Management's conference in Boston.

The study was undertaken to explore changes occurring in the IT workforce caused by pending baby-boomer retirements, declining enrollments in university IT courses, and IT outsourcing. The study hopes to shed light on current and future IT skills within businesses and their IT capability needs, how businesses plan to develop and retain those skills in-house and through outsourcing, and what IT skills universities need to be teaching.

Led by Kate Kaiser, an associate professor of IT at Marquette University, the study was conducted by some 20 academics who interviewed 95 executives within 82 organizations. About two-thirds of the interviewed executives work in the professional service, financial service, and manufacturing industries with the balance in other industries.

Surveyed executives said that project planning, budgeting, and scheduling are the top critical skills needed in-house today, according to the study, but functional area knowledge will surpass that by 2008. Company knowledge, industry knowledge, and user-relations management skills were all deemed to be more important in 2008 than they are today.

Companies with revenue of less than $3 billion have 73% of their IT workforce in-house and 27% outsourced, while that ratio is 74% and 26% within larger companies. By 2008 the smaller companies will shift 4% of the in-house workforce to outsourcers, while larger companies will shift 7%.

Generally, programming, operations, desktop and help desk, and mainframe and legacy-system management skills will be considered less critical in-house capabilities in 2008, according to the study. But specialized skills still considered critical and likely to remain in-house include expertise in Web-based Java and .Net, enterprise-resource-planning reporting, integration, wireless, imaging and sound, and security auditing.

The study also concluded that undergraduates with internships and graduate students with work experience have a competitive advantage in finding IT jobs.

SIM is still analyzing the survey findings and conducting additional interviews. A white paper that will take a more detailed look at the results is in the works.

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