5 flourishing and 5 fading IT careers

Which IT careers are on the rise and which ones are disappearing? IT job hunters and hiring managers need to understand the trends
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Flourishing: The product manager or product owner

The dream of digital transformation is to create digitally enhanced products and digitally enabled revenue streams. That requires a product orientation rather than a project orientation.

Depending on the organization, a CTO may be the ultimate product owner in an organization – someone who is able to create strategy, bring in the talent to execute on it, and stay focused on that product mindset, Smith says.

Below that level, product managers attend to the details of agile, scrum, software development and issue tracking to get the work done.

Product managers also do a lot of the work previously assigned to business analysts, making sure to ask the right questions and solve the right problems so whatever software is produced meets the business requirements, Boeder says.

Flourishing: Cybersecurity professionals

This one seems almost too obvious. Demand for cybersecurity talent has been growing for years, even more so now that securing remote work arrangements is a priority for every company.

Information security talent at all levels will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.

“Given these uncertain times, and with all of the remote work taking place, information security talent at all levels will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future,” says Kelly Doyle, managing director, Heller Search Associates, an executive search firm that specializes in CIOs and other IT leaders.

At the top level, a chief information security officer (CISO) needs to understand the business context, not just the technical details of security, Boeder says. They need to be dedicated to securing the business without paralyzing the business. They must understand the stakes and translate that understanding into leadership.

“Security isn’t just about security,” Boeder says. Those with executive responsibility for security, from the CEO down, are well aware of the likelihood that mishandling security issues could lose them their jobs.

Flourishing: Analytics professionals

In addition to protecting their data, employers want to put it to work.

“Data and analytics roles have been on the rise for years, and each year we are asked to fill more of these positions for client organizations,” Doyle says. “The demand is likely to continue to expand because executive committees now see that by bringing disparate information from all areas of the operation together, they can make critical decisions with greater confidence.”

Smith agrees: “Everyone and their mom wants an analytics person.” The analytics skills in demand range from basic, like the ability to work with Excel pivot tables and create reports and write SQL queries, to Python and R for the “heavy hitter” data analysts, she says.

Even if you are not applying for an analytics role, stress these skills if you have them - and develop them if you don’t.

Flourishing: Data scientists and data engineers

The more ambitious applications of big data and Internet of Things data require an appreciation of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning techniques.

Engineers with knowledge of machine vision can command a salary that is $50,000 higher than those who do not.

This includes some skills that remain rare. For example, Smith says data engineers with knowledge of machine vision can command a salary that is $50,000 higher than those who do not.

The “data scientist” title reflects the need for theoretical knowledge often imported from academia, while data engineers are skilled in the practical implementation of this sort of software.

As much as possible, companies want to find people who can address both sides of that equation, Boeder says. “They really need a person who understands the theory as well as the practice.” While data science truly is a science, he adds, companies want someone who can not only run interesting experiments but translate the science into business growth.

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Flourishing: The "linchpin"

You will not see many, if any, IT job postings that have “linchpin” as the title, but Boeder says that’s really what companies want when they are hiring a technology leader. They want someone who can manage products, processes, and technologies, then pull it all together to produce business results.

Linchpins may or may not be technologists, although many times they are, he says. “These are people who can see strategy – see it almost like it’s a concrete thing – and they can also develop the processes and the tactics, and they can execute them. They may come from tech, but they also have to know manufacturing or whatever product or service the company provides. They also need to be knowledgeable to some extent about marketing, sales, product development, and project management.”

“Companies are looking for people who can cut through the fat and be more streamlined with processes,” Smith explains. “They should be up to date on understanding the latest tools, even if not very technical themselves, so that they can fully automate their company. Because every company is a tech company right now – that’s kind of the transition we’ve seen.”

These people exist, but they aren’t easy to find or open up a conversation with, Boeder says. “They aren’t as interested in being an executive as they are in doing interesting work.” Often, he adds, they are more than a little arrogant – convinced they can do what others might consider impossible.

If this is who you want to be, nurture your own technological curiosity and understand your company probably won’t pay for you to be trained in all the things you’re going to need to learn, Boeder says. Then define yourself as the technology leader you want to be – because if you don’t define yourself, others will do it for you.

[ What are the new trends in IT talent? Read the new Harvard Business Review Analytic Services report: IT Talent Strategy: New Tactics for a New Era. ]

David F. Carr is a writer, speaker, student of digital business, and the author of "Social Collaboration for Dummies." He previously served as an editor for InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Internet World and has written for Forbes, CIO Magazine, and Defense Systems.


I see adverts, and interview, for ERP Project Manager roles but they actually want the deep functional/configuration knowledge of a Functional expert/BA/Product Owner(at a higher level of Functionality definition).
True Project Management is still need for large or complex software development/implementation e.g. covering multiple business value steams/functions/process areas and is 100% Not the Product Owner or Scrum Master role in Agile.

Consider changing terminology in your article,
From “linchpin” to Hingepin to make point...
Better connotation.

The “lynchpin” is also known as an Enterprise Architect. It is part personality trait as described with a natural talent for design thinking, but also years of experience coupled with continuous education.

You won't see a title of Linchpin, but that's what companies want.

CIO and CTO are interchangeable.

Seems like a legit article.

If you want to know what is and isn't flourishing; hit up the job boards.

Don't take your advice from a mediocre website.

Specialist/'division of labour' vs. Generalist (asked to have strategic overview and/or as expert as possible in multiple disciplines) is interesting to compare to Ford's speedy production of the same product (SaaS/low-code) vs. hand crafted vehicles made slowly.
This is also where applying Kanban and other car manufacturing methods falls down for complex and unique ERP solutions.

I am a MS SQL DBA (other RDBMS I dont even know anything about), I have never run out job offers, even know the market is still pretty good, although Cloud is the way to go, mainly Azure if you happen to be in Europe

no comment, i just want updtes