Emerging IT skills, trends and certifications for 2010
2009 may have been a tough year for the economy, but technology hasn't stood still. Google set the blogosphere alight in September when it invited a lucky few to test its new Google Wave communications platform, while Microsoft finally laid Vista to rest and replaced it with Windows 7. Meanwhile, Cisco is putting the finishing touches to some brand new certifications. Here's a look at what's emerging in IT in 2010.
1. New Cisco Certifications
When it comes to developing new certification paths, Cisco is guided by technologies that are established enough to be a part of a network pro's job function, and the findings from a June 2008 Forrester survey titled "Closing the IT NEtwork Skills Gap
." Of the IT managers surveyed, 65% indicated that within the next five years, technical certification would be somewhat or absolutely critical in determining whether an individual should be assigned responsibilities in network operations or central data center roles.
The result is two new Cisco data center certifications whose exams will be available in December. Fred Weiller, director of marketing for [email protected]
says the prerequisites for Cisco Data Unified Computing Design Specialist
and Data Center Unified Computing Support Specialist Data Center Unified Computing Specialist
signal the first time that a Cisco certification requires the passing of a non-Cisco exam. Candidates must hold the VMware VCP certification, among other prerequisites. Weiller says Cisco is in talks with other virtualization vendors to include their certifications.
In January, Cisco is expected to select the first group of individuals who will go through the Cisco Certified Architect accreditation process. Applications for the process will open in December. This new certification was announced in June and sits above the already tough CCIE program. Candidates are required to hold the CCIE sister certification, Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE), which is still in its infancy. Since the pool of candidates is small (currently, only about 20 people hold the CCDE), Weiller says the number of individuals selected will be in the single digits. Cisco likens the certification to a PhD because it's an advanced designation and because candidates are required to define and defend a network blueprint to a panel of experts, similar to how Ph.D. candidates defend their thesis. Candidates are not judged on their knowledge of Cisco technologies but how well their network blueprints address business objectives, and their ability to communicate this at the face-to-face interview with the judges.
2. Microsoft Windows 7, Exchange 2010, SharePoint 2010
Microsoft's launch of Windows 7 on Oct. 22 was welcomed by many as a much-needed upgrade to Vista, which garnered a reputation for being slow, buggy and annoying. In enterprise sites, Windows 7 is expected to see widespread adoption as companies enter the natural upgrade cycle for their desktops and laptops, and because Windows Server 2008 Release 2 was released at the same time. The two platforms were designed to work together in an enterprise setting.
Kim Lanzarusso, Global Knowledge product director for Microsoft training, says Global Knowledge's Windows 7 training has been very popular with engineers eager to start evaluating the new OS and to learn what it will take to roll it out in their environments.
Microsoft also polished off two other major releases that will keep system managers busy in 2010: Exchange Server 2010 and SharePoint 2010. Exchange 2010 is expected to ship on Nov. 9 and includes new storage and deployment options, built-in e-mail archiving, and new database clustering. SharePoint 2010 was unveiled on Oct. 19 at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. It sports a streamlined central administration, a Best Practices Analyzer that monitors server farm health, and usage reporting and logging.
Lanzarusso says Global Knowledge customers should expect a big push for Exchange and SharePoint learning in the first quarter of 2010. The company begins building courses as soon as Microsoft ships feature-complete releases, and courses are generally available 10 to 12 weeks after that. Go here
for Windows 7 resources from Global Knowledge.
3. Social Media
If you like to share your thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter, poke fun of friends on Facebook, and actively participate in online communities, you're probably a social media nut. There are companies willing to employ you to Twitter. It's no denying that a social media marketing frenzy is sweeping across corporate America. Ford Motor Company, Starbucks, and Intel are often cited as companies that are doing social media well. Companies are eager to hire social media specialists who can expertly get a company's messages across to audiences on social networks.
According to researcher Forrester, interactive marketing, which includes search marketing, display advertising, e-mail marketing, and social media, will increase to $55 billion or 21% of all marketing spend in 2014. This represents a shift away from traditional media, says Forrester.
While many social media/community management jobs require some marketing experience, most job ads ask for individuals who are very familiar with social networking tools, can engage with audiences on different social networking sites, and have an avid group of follows in cyberspace. To get an idea of the types of jobs available and the backgrounds of people who are hired, former Forrester analyst and now Partner of Customer Strategy at the Altimeter Group, Jeremiah Owyang, posts a weekly "People on the Move in Social Media" update on his Web Strategy blog
. The site also advertises open Web strategists jobs.
4. Cloud Computing
There is no denying the attractiveness of hosted applications, such as Google Docs. They're cheap (free, actually), easy to use and available to you wherever you are. A recent study by IDC found one in five companies said Google Docs is "widely used" in their workplace. Even Microsoft
plans to introduce a cloud version of Office 2010 available for free to customers of its Software Assurance maintenance program. Google is set to boost the attractiveness of hosted applications even further with Google Wave
, a platform that combines e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, social networking, document sharing, multimedia and more. Google in September began inviting developers and others to test Wave, sparking some hot bids and scams for Wave invites.
But tempering the attractiveness of hosted services are the downsides, including outages and security issues. A number of popular services, including Gmail, Twitter, PayPal and Rackspace, have been hit by outages, while a hacker last summer gained access to sensitive Google Apps documents of Twitter.
5. Usability Professionals
As more software is available to a wider population user experience needs to be more than an after-thought. Many organizations hire usability professionals to ensure user feedback is included in the development process. Incorporating usability helps to increase productivity, reduce development time and costs (software doesn't have to be rewritten if user feedback is collected as part of the development process), and reduce training and support costs, according to the Usability Professionals' Association. UPA Secretary and Director of Training, Paul Sherman highlighted Citrix and Microsoft as leaders of usability in the software space, but that could be attributed to the usability focus in their consumer products. Enterprise software still has much to learn in this space, Sherman says, and this presents a great opportunity for usability professionals.
Usability as a profession is not new but it is growing steadily as more companies consider user experience as an important factor. Usability pros have a broad training and professional background. Some have qualifications in human-computer interaction, information design or psychology. Others have backgrounds in computer science and technical writing, according to UPA data. Job titles too are diverse, ranging from user experience practioner, to information architect. Other closely related titles are Web designer and software analyst. The UPA's 2009 worldwide salary survey
of 1,786 of its members found that most were under the age of 45, are highly educated (47% hold a Master's degree or greater), are likely to work for a software company (25%), and are employed in a mid-level, non-supervisory role (32%), or senior-level, non-supervisory (28%) position. The average salary for 2009 is $85,284, compared to $78,445 in 2005.