Alternative Tech Careers Safer From Outsourcing

In a troubled economy, the career-savvy IT person likely is asking himself, “Is my job safe?”

As organizations seek out immediate ways to cut costs, the likelihood a company would consider offshore outsourcing increases, and tech careers often are the first to go.

However, almost every industry has a need for computers. IT pros willing to branch out and consider career opportunities not specifically in the technology industry might benefit.

Janice Weinberg, author of Debugging Your Information Technology Career and owner of career consulting firm Career Solutions, said the insurance industry, for instance, offers many types of products and services IT people can promote or work with in some capacity.

“Professional liability coverage, errors and omissions, and directors and officers coverage — this is the type of coverage that would be appropriate for software developers, system integrators, consultants, Web site developers, etc.,” Weinberg said. “Right now, approximately 50 percent of these businesses have this type of coverage. However, increasingly, their customers are requiring them to have it because there have been many instances of software malpractice and companies not being satisfied with what they received as opposed to what they thought they were getting.”

And that’s just one insurance-product category of interest to the IT pro. Any company that has a technology infrastructure and network likely will have a cyberliability insurance policy to protect it against network intrusions, employee negligence and theft of company or customer data.

Weinberg said there are two tech positions in particular that relate to these types of insurance products. One is a technology insurance broker, which is a sales position. The other is a technology insurance underwriter.

“This is the person to whom the broker will turn with the information about applicants applying for either type of coverage,” Weinberg explained. “The underwriter will review the applicant’s information and may, for example, require that a company applying for a cyberliability — sometimes called cyberrisk — policy undergo an audit by a third party so the underwriter can see what the risks are and price the policy accordingly, assuming that the underwriter is willing to offer the policy.”

Both of these positions are tech-related but have more of a business focus, a widespread trend that allows IT pros to leverage their knowledge and enter a field where they can market that technical knowledge in a way that would be beneficial to the employer.

For techies considering a more stabilizing career move, Weinberg said segueing into one of these positions is an ideal way to execute a change.

“An insurance broker who markets either of these products should be very interested in an IT professional who has the appropriate knowledge because insurance companies expect the broker will do pre-underwriting — [that is,] do enough due diligence on the application so only applicants with a high probability of getting a policy will be presented to the underwriter,” she said.

“IT professionals in general are very analytical, not the kind of people you would necessarily think of in the role of salesperson. One approach an IT person might take is to first become an underwriter of the type of insurance product that appeals to him or her and get one to two years experience in that role before making the transition to a broker position, where the income potential is much higher.”

Weinberg added that corporate development analyst is another tech position resistant to offshoring. The corporate development analyst likely would be employed by a company that acquires other companies or the product lines of other companies.

“For example, let’s say someone is a business analyst at a company, and this person has experience supporting the supply-chain function of a packaged goods company,” she said. “This business analyst might be attracted to the corporate development area and might want to get involved in researching and evaluating potential acquisitions. He could leverage his industry experience by targeting a company that’s marketing any type of software to packaged goods companies. Alternatively, this person could target a company marketing supply-chain software to companies in that industry.”

Additionally, Weinberg said, an IT pro attracted to corporate development could proactively identify prospective employers likely to be involved in acquisitions.

“Visit the company’s Web site: Often companies will describe their strategy for expanding the business as being partly or completely based on inorganic, or expansion-through-acquisitions, rather than organic, or internally driven, growth," she said. “Sometimes companies use a combination of both. Someone who’s interested in corporate development as a career should be looking at the Web sites of companies engaged in activities consistent with his or her industry and/or functional experience and targeting those that describe a growth strategy that entails making acquisitions.”

- Kellye Whitney, kwhitney@certmag.com

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