By Mary K. Pratt of Computerworld
With big data, mobile computing, social media, cloud computing and the consumerization of IT all converging on IT in 2012, some new — and intriguing — job titles are beginning to emerge.
Computerworld went digging and unearthed a handful of positions you can expect to see popping up more and more — along with details on what you’ll need to land one of them. Read on, future chief agile officers.
Director of cloud transformation
As companies move from the client-server world to one where systems reside in the cloud, they’re hiring professionals to oversee the entire strategy, says Al Delattre, global industry lead for technology at Los Angeles recruiting firm Korn/Ferry International.
Whether the position’s called director of cloud transformation, vice president of virtualization or cloud transformation officer — all of those titles are floating out there in the corporate world — the job description remains roughly the same: Oversee all the moving parts required to make the move to the cloud, Delattre says.
“This position is like being a conductor of an orchestra. It’s a series of 500 projects over seven years. You have to make sure it works and it’s sequenced,” he says. “No one person is an expert on all of it,” which means multiple specialists are often involved — and that, in turn, spurs some companies to seek out an overseeing director.
Delattre likens the move to the cloud to the big ERP projects that swept through organizations in the past decade or so. Now, as then, companies are looking to hire people who can show that they’ve been able to plan, control and deliver complex, high-risk projects involving technology that’s evolving even as the project is underway. “You’ve got to have that track record. You want someone who has landed on the moon and returned before,” Delattre says.
They’re also looking for deep knowledge of the organization’s applications. “You have to understand the parts you’re working with. You need to understand what’s in there now,” he says. “You need to know that [someone] might have put in a patch 10 years ago and never documented it.”
Finally, they’re looking for folks skilled in negotiating with and managing vendors. “There is absolutely a skill requirement around procurement, because so much of this is about procuring services,” says Delattre.
Once an organization successfully moves to the cloud, does the job go away? Given the complexity of the task, Delattre says, cloud transition managers can expect to stay busy for at least the next several years, before transitions are complete and the job morphs into one focused on maintenance.
“This is a two-to-five-to-seven-year run, similar to what happened when we went from mainframe to client server and then again when we went to the Web,” Delattre says.
Companies of every size and stripe are implementing ever more ambitious strategies involving social media, so it’s only logical that they need technologists who can make the most of their investments, says Rachel Russell, director of marketing at Hanover, Md.-based IT staffing firm TekSystems.
Some of them are moving to hire people who understand both the marketing value of social media as well as its technical complexities — an acknowledgement that in most organizations social media has, up until now, been under the purview of either marketing or IT. Now, some are putting a new crossbreed of talent into positions with titles like chief social media strategist, new media coordinator, manager of social media and (less frequently) socialite.
“What you’ll see with these positions is a tie-in to strategy. Companies want someone who can help them understand and define what the strategy is; [someone to say] ‘Here’s what we want the social media strategy to be,'” says Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president of IT staffing firm Modis in Jacksonville, Fla.
The role isn’t about sending out tweets and posting on Facebook all day, he clarifies. It’s about leveraging technology to monitor online activity and interactions and to engage consumers.
Given all that, the ideal candidate is someone who has a strong background in business strategy and marketing with project management and business intelligence experience mixed in — and a technical background, with skills in HTML and Web rendering, Ripaldi says.
If that order weren’t tall enough, companies also want candidates with proven experience. Strong candidates would have solid experience in marketing and could demonstrate the ROI of their past marketing projects, Ripaldi says.
“When we’re interviewing IT professionals, we want to hear about what projects they worked on and what they did for the business: What business stakeholders did you work with? What were the challenges? If they can answer those, [we see that] they get what they’re doing,” Russell says.
In a move that may be welcome news to IT types, some organizations are going so far as to create more than one specialized social-media-oriented position. They’re hiring a high-level executive to develop a strategy and then hiring a midtier techie (as social media architect, engineer or developer) with skills in coding, HTML, website development, graphical user interfaces and search engine optimization.
Big data is on the agenda of nearly every future-looking operation, for good reason. “Organizations are drowning in the amount of data that comes in, but it’s all very siloed. People have the information, but they can’t find it,” says Daniel Burrus, founder and CEO of Burrus Research Associates in Hartland, Wis., and the author of Flash Foresight: How to See the Invisible and Do the Impossible.
So enterprises need a new breed of worker who understands how to collect, interpret and analyze vast amounts of data in a way that’s truly useful for making business decisions.
“There’s a huge explosion of consumer data, and every company that’s even close to a consumer market is trying to figure out what to do with all this data — to move it from data to insight to actionable items instantaneously,” says Korn/Ferry’s Delattre.