When I interviewed Pew Charitable Trust CIO Greg Smith following his keynote at the Fall Interop conference in New York, he outlined the new roles that IT will have to undertake. Of the seven new roles for IT, three dealt with the shifting role of IT in supporting the SaaS choices being made by business groups. One was to pursue a cloud strategy as part of the IT strategic role. Another was to refine and redefine your security strategy to center around filtering and data loss prevention. The third was to shift business intelligence internal systems to cloud-based applications. Any one of those activities requires a new talent set for IT; all three together represents a fundamental shift.
A few weeks later, I was moderating a panel that included Bret Goldstein, CIO for the City of Chicago. Goldstein's myriad projects include providing a way for waiting riders to know where buses were on their routes, mobilizing applications that were developed years or decades previously and taking on projects that directly affect residents.
In wintery Chicago, getting the snowplows to plow the streets in the most efficient manner possible is a big deal, said Goldstein. He is anxious to get to the public sector the types of software services available to the private sector, and in many cases that involves bringing in SaaS. One of his most interesting projects involved using predictive analytics to identify some of Chicago's crime spots for additional policing. I'd say the overarching role for IT in Goldstein's model is to figure out the best way to acquire services; take analog services -- such as buses -- and bring them into the digital world; and tie the whole system together in a mobile, secure private environment.
The employment prospects in the IT community remain quite good. In an analysis of the current IT jobs market, Foote Partners described the IT job market as "roaring back" after a September dip with 12,500 IT jobs being created in October. But the talents needed for IT are rapidly changing. Not too much new in that sense. I remember when being a Netware engineer was the hot job. Chris Murphy has a nice roundup of the current state of IT hiring in which retraining IT for mobile is strong and app development -- which I think app integration is part of -- is also strong. As Rob Preston recently wrote, incremental change in IT won't cut it. Cutting it in the future for IT will mean changing from a builder to a bundler. CIOs will change from technology owner to technology orchestra leader, and IT employees will find a great future if they are willing to learn some great new mobile, integration skills.