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Looking into the ICT crystal ball - and other thoughts on the industry

Recently Intergen was asked to help out Career Services with the ICT section of their website. Here are some of my thoughts on a few of the questions they pose – and hopefully they encourage some students to consider a career in IT.

What is the outlook for the ICT industry in the next 2 – 5 years? Good, average, poor? Why?
The outlook for the ICT industry in the next two to five years is excellent. Every year it gets more and more exciting to work in the industry. Having worked in the IT sector for 30 years I can tell you that every year has been better than the last (except maybe around the year 2000). As hardware, software and networking technologies improve and capabilities are extended, more business problems can be solved in innovative ways. Over time, scope, complexity and sophistication of technologies increase, which makes it a more stimulating and challenging environment to work in. So the challenge never lessens – in fact it becomes more and more interesting.

IT is now seen as a significant business enabler, and can help businesses look at new ways of working. It’s not just about developing cool new things, but about helping develop businesses. For example, think about what we had before TradeMe – classified ads and notes pinned up at the corner dairy.

Are there any key new technologies that are affecting the way people are working in the ICT industry? What are these?
At Intergen we are witnessing a move to more sophisticated products (such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NAV, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS), EPiServer). These new products now deliver so much functionality straight out of the box that people can now use a large part of their budgets to really add some icing to the solution rather than exhausting most of their  budget just getting the basics.

Another significant change to the ways in which people are working is the rise of mobile solutions. Mobility is changing the landscape of our working lives and will continue to change the ways in which we work and do business. The price differential between mobile and wall-bound devices is shrinking, and these devices are becoming increasingly prevalent in our everyday lives, whether it’s PDAs, mobile phones, iPods or GPS tracking systems. All these mobile technologies can be integrated with IT solutions to offer more powerful, enriched capabilities that extend beyond the four walls. Consider the latest mobile banking offerings, where your bank balance or financial information is only a matter of an SMS away. And given that banks lead the way in the service industry, it won’t be long before other companies are following suit.

Is this affecting skill requirement for people working in this industry? How?
The advent of far more sophisticated products that deliver the majority of required functionality out of the box means that there is a rapidly growing requirement for people who can understand business processes and requirements, reducing the need for pure developers. This is manifesting itself as an increasing demand for people who have a combination of business and technical skills, either business-savvy technical people or technical-savvy business people, to fulfil a demand for business and technical analysts. This is not to say that the need for developers is abating, as they will always be needed to develop the products themselves and integrate various systems, but that a lot more straight implementations can happen without the need for developer intervention.

The ICT industry needs more people with the ability to think outside the square and see the big picture and then suggest different ways of doing things. In an industry that is ever changing and becoming more sophisticated and complex, where there are many different ways of doing things, it is essential that we have staff that can comprehend the many different options at hand for just a single situation, evaluate these and then decide upon the best course of action. This also necessitates creativity and lateral thinking, even in the most technical roles. Great new ideas can only be arrived at by thinking creatively and weighing up a myriad of possibilities.

Posted by: Paddy Payne, Director and Enterprise Architect | 24 September 2007

Tags: Career, ICT

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