Gartner: IT staff need more than tech skills

IT professionals need to develop business acumen and 'relationship management' skills to survive in a world of outsourcing and automation, warns analyst group

Good technical skills won't be enough for workers who want to hold onto their jobs in IT, as staff need to show off new business skills to attract employers, according to research from Gartner.

Scepticism about the effectiveness of IT, increasing automation and offshoring will lead to the emergence of a new breed of IT professionals who combine technical aptitude, local knowledge, knowledge of industry processes and leadership ability, the analyst group said this week.

Workers will have to prove they understand the realities of the business, such as industry and customer issues and regulation, as three out of five will have business-facing roles within five years.

"Some will be bolstered, some will be carved up, some will be redistributed and some will be displaced," said Diane Morello, vice president of research at Gartner, in a statement.

By 2010, Gartner predicts that IT departments in midsized and large companies will be 30 per cent smaller than they are in 2005, and IT jobs will be influenced by four major trends. They are:

  • Jobs in technology infrastructure and services will decline in end-user organisations but grow in service, hardware and software companies but many of these jobs will be in developing economies.
  • Business intelligence, online consumer services and collaboration will grow in user companies, systems integrators and consulting companies.
  • There will be opportunities in process design and management in terms of competitive business processes, design of process automation and operational processes.
  • Relationship and sourcing management will gain ground, demanding strengths in managing "intangibles" and managing geographically distributed parties with different work outcomes and cultures.

The analyst group said IT workers must focus their skills and expertise to send out a clear value message to potential employers. And employers should develop growth paths and career opportunities for these four domains of expertise.

"IT professionals need to act now by assessing and building their business-specific, core process and industry knowledge," Morello said.