Keep an Eye on These People

Three_peopleHave you got good people working for you? Whether you're a provider of IT outsourcing services or a buyer of those services, you have to keep in mind that some of the workers helping you succeed in business are in demand and coveted. They might even be getting job offers from your competitors at this very moment. Poachers, to paraphrase Neil Young re: rust, never sleep.

Whether IT budgets go up this year or stay flat (depends on whom you ask), certain skills are going to be very popular with companies hiring tech staff. Based on scans of job openings, reports from HR agencies, IT trend forecasts, and conversations with people who hire and rely on talent, here are the skills/items of mastery that are going to be in most demand over the next year or two.

Business intelligence. With Big Data and data mining initiatives, companies need people who know how to make sense of it all and turn it into operational goals. "This requires staff with a passion for engineering and competitive intelligence," as it says in the handy little e-book, 2012 IT Planning Guide for Application Development.

Also, tech people who are just plain smart about business.

Mobile BI. Depending on your software portfolio, you might also need people who can design mobile BI applications, because the people who need to understand all that data are not sitting around at their desks all day. There's a need for what IDC Brasil analyst Samuel Carvalho calls "lighter, faster, and simpler BI applications."

Hadoopers. Back to all that Big Data. If interpreting information mountains is part of your mission, you'll need people who know how to operate the advanced tools required to enable comprehension and meaning. Apache Hadoop seems to be the framework that's becoming most popular for handling Big Data.

SQL. Bob Tekiela, CTO of 500friends, recently analyzed the San Francisco area job ads and found that MySQL is mentioned most often in ads for relational database workers, but NoSQL is also prominent. And first on the list of NoSQL databases is... Hadoop.

Android developers. If you're building mobile apps or expecting to, you will need people who know this smartphone OS. Although iPhone being the media darling might lead you to think that iOS is where it's at, Android phones dominate and are projected to maintain the largest share of the market by far. You can always outsource the iPhone projects.

UX. Anyone who knows how to design a great user experience is golden. Mobile user interfaces are driving much of this demand, but anyone who has worked with enterprise software knows that much of it could use a visual overhaul.

Agile developers. I've yet to see this skill or experience mentioned in any surveys or forecasts or job advice boards, but I can't see adoption of Agile methods going in any direction but up. Even if software companies don't profess to be doing Agile, many are embracing the principles and collaborative approach of the Agile philosophy.

Scrum. You need masters to guide the agile devs. Trained masters are in short supply.

Testers who know programming. Proponents of Agile development advocate testing software during the creation phase. If you can find people with both skill sets, who have the discipline that rigorous testing requires, you are going to be steps ahead of competitors.

Social media IT. No, not someone to set up your Facebook page or sit about twittering all day. Heck, even I, like Lindsay Lohan, can do that. What organizations need is someone who can figure out how to integrate social media into the enterprise system.

SAP. Not everything is brand new and shiny. I don't know that use of SAP is growing in the Nearshore, but I know of several big IT providers who say they have ongoing openings for SAP experts. ERP, CRM, all those old-school acronyms, they're not going away.

That human touch. Your person in charge of connecting with clients might know every little thing about building an ERP system or coding a mobile app, but if he or she can't talk to or listen to clients or to other people on the team, uh-oh. Interacting with clients is a skill, and it requires traits not everyone has. A brilliant but irascible jerk is okay when he's a doctor on TV, but not a good interface with clients or even providers.

If you have people on your team who command these skills, keep an eye on them, meaning keep them engaged and motivated with interesting work. Don't micromanage them. Don't coddle, but let them know their contribution is appreciated. Remember, someone else wants them too.