Top 10 Predictions for 2005

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As we approach 2005, I thought I would share my predictions for the IT industry in the New Year and, more importantly, how these predictions, if they come true, will affect opportunities for all of us as certified IT professionals.

Overall, I believe there is good news ahead for 2005. As the economy picks up, there will be increased demand for technology and innovation, allowing IT to continue its path toward renewed growth. This growth creates opportunity for all of us. However, these prospects will come in new and different ways as the American economy innovates, takes advantage of emerging technologies and protects itself from potential IT security weaknesses. My predictions for 2005 are:

1. We will continue to see a strengthening in the economy that will lead to an increase in demand for workers with IT skills and certifications. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Forrester Research, two out of three CIOs in North America plan to spend more in 2005 than in 2004. On average, these CIOs believe that their IT spending will climb 6.4 percent in 2005.

2. Exponential growth for IT security professionals will continue as organizations and government departments realize that they must dedicate all resources necessary to secure their systems at all levels.

3. Certifications will experience continued pressure to reflect real-world experience instead of just mastery of knowledge. This means that certification vendors need to create programs that are more about the use of skills and experience—not just the acquisition of knowledge.

4. Open-source technologies will see continued growth, fueling demand for qualified IT professionals in that space. The more that Linux and other open-source technologies underpin organizations, the greater the need will be to have properly trained and certified professionals to support these fast-growing technologies.

5. There will be more growth in vendor-neutral certifications that reflect multi-vendor platforms and architectures, rather than single-product sets. Employers are starting to view vendor-neutral certification programs as more well-rounded, focusing on the overall technology solution, rather than a specific vendor or brand.

6. The number of IT jobs that are globally sourced will continue to expand. Many of these jobs will be entry-level positions, making it more difficult for individuals to find entry points into the IT industry in the United States. The good news is that there will be an expanding need for higher-level, innovative positions.

7. Accelerated convergence of the information technology and communications industries will fuel demand for IT professionals who have crossed the chasm and are able to work seamlessly in both worlds. In fact, IDC has identified convergence technology as one of the top four areas of emerging certifications, along with data storage, optical and wireless technologies.

8. Demand for application developers will increase rapidly as more IT projects are funded within Corporate America, fueling demand for certified professionals in this space.

9. IT professionals will experience ever-increasing pressure to round out their skill sets in business-related areas. Project management, business analysis and general management skills will continue to become valuable skills for IT professionals to acquire. Ultimately, IT professionals will need a general understanding of management in addition to an understanding of IT if they are to move onward and upward in their careers.

10. Technology will continue to underpin almost every job within the U.S. economy. Technology will continue to move from being a profession in its own right toward recognition as a necessary skill set of almost every American knowledge worker. This will require IT professionals to continue to build higher-level skill sets to differentiate themselves and progress in their careers.

It will be interesting to see how these predictions play out as we move into 2005. The one thing I am absolutely certain of is that our industry will not stand still. It will continue to change, it will continue to be disruptive, and it will continue to force all of us to continue our journey of lifelong development if we want to keep pace.

Martin Bean is the chief operating officer for New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, the world’s largest independent IT training company.


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