09 The Growth of IT A Look into the Future of Salary and Demand

Just as technology is constantly evolving, so is the complex IT job market. Knowing the latest hiring, salary, and industry trends can help IT professionals navigate the tech job industry, and be prepared to advance their careers with upcoming opportunities.

The recently released 2015 Modis Salary Guide for Tech Professionals reveals very promising news for tech professionals in the near future, with a look at the overall tech job market as well as the hottest IT careers over the next few years. Here’s what IT pros can look forward to for in-demand jobs with great salaries.

The IT jobs market at a glance

Overall, tech job continue to show rapid growth across multiple sectors. The report from Modis projects that while other industries will experience 10.8 percent employment growth by 2022, IT jobs are expected to show 18 percent growth in the same time period.

In the United States, 685,000 new tech jobs are projected to be added by 2022.

Most in-demand IT jobs

The IT job market is generally growing across all areas, but some sectors are hotter than others. Here are the tech careers that will be the most in demand — and some of the highest paid — over the next few years:

Analysts: Systems analysts jobs are expected to grow 25 percent by 2022. An example of the projected salary in this sector is Business Data Analyst II (mid-level), with a salary range of $55,376 to $86,535, and an average salary of $70,453.

Health IT: The value of the health IT sector is expected to reach $56.7 billion by 2017. Some of the most in-demand jobs for this sector include:

  • Revenue cycle analyst (salary range $36,892 - $71,829; average salary $51,930)
  • Clinical systems analyst (salary range $64,927 - $101,154; average salary $82,454)
  • Clinical informaticist (salary range $42,282 - $74,147; average salary $55,728)

Database development, administration, and business intelligence: With big data becoming a must for many businesses, database and analyst related jobs are projected to show a 15 percent growth by 2022. Positions in high demand include:

  • Data scientist (salary range $79,285 - $138,281; average salary $109,260)
  • Database administrator (salary range $81,497 - $129,993; average salary $107,130)
  • Business intelligence specialist (salary range $88,930 - $137,534; average salary $110,197)

Programming and software engineering: These positions are constantly in demand, and developer jobs are expected to show 22 percent growth by 2022. Some of the top positions for this sector include:

  • Applications engineer, entry level (salary range $45,069 - $80,665; average salary $59,355)
  • Applications engineer, advanced (salary range $86,819 - $156,118; average salary $122,627)
  • Programmer III, mid-level (salary range $71,616 - $111,422; average salary $90,528)
  • Software engineer II, mid-level (salary range $62,811 - $96,472; average salary $78,410)
  • .NET developer (salary range $55,689 - $95,556; average salary $75,995)

Project management: This area has a growth forecast of 15 percent by 2022. Anticipated salaries for project managers include:

  • IT project manager I, entry (salary range $51,173 - $101,266; average salary $76,282)
  • IT project manager III, senior (salary range $81,603 - $129,987; average salary $107,203)

Security: Another area that is always in demand, the growth forecast for security and security analyst jobs is robust at 37 percent by 2022. Some of the most sought-after IT security jobs will include:

  • Security administrator (salary range $50,812 - $108,106; average salary $74,917)
  • Systems security analyst (salary range $62,102 - $111,026; average salary $84,941)
  • Data security manager (salary range $91,305 - $157,778; average salary $115,415)

Web development: High-end web developer positions are projected to grow 20 percent by 2022. The most popular positions in this sector include:

  • Web application developer (salary range $52,462 - $84,613; average salary $66,212)
  • Interface design director (average salary $129,421 - $179,701; average salary $155,669)

07 Recruiting an IT Project Manager Make Sure You Look for These Important Skills

In order to make sure your IT project is completed on time and in budget, you need a great project manager. But how can you spot one? Unfortunately, holding the title of project manager doesn’t always mean that a person can effectively manage projects.

Here are the skills a good IT project manager should have to complete projects successfully, without wasting your time or money.

Organization and multi-tasking

A project manager’s organizational skills can make or break a project. A strong project manager will be able to juggle multiple tasks, or even multiple projects, and track project issues on a daily basis — so they’re spending less time looking for information, and more time managing the project productively.

Leadership skills

It goes without saying that project managers should be good leaders, but it’s important to realize that there’s more to manage than the IT team. A great IT project manager is able to take charge of the team, and also lead vendors and stakeholders in order to reach a collaborative consensus.

Good project managers inspire their team to realize the project vision, and maintain strong relationships with key stakeholders that ensure alignment with project goals.

Effective communication

Key personnel in any project will include both technical and non-tech professionals. Good project managers are excellent communicators — able to clearly explain even complex concepts to key stakeholders, and ensure that communication is maintained among all stakeholders as well as between stakeholders and the project team.

Effective communication encompasses more than the ability to translate tech speak. Great project managers will be able to relay both good news and bad news to all staff levels, in a timely and tactful manner. They’ll also understand who needs to know what, when, and how — and ensure that the appropriate information is delivered to the right people, at the right times.

Negotiating skills

A good project manager will know both how and when to negotiate. With most projects, the IT project manager is working with people whose interests may not align with their own, or who don’t seem to be interested in understanding the goals of the project — or why they should help accomplish them.

Successful project managers develop relationships with stakeholders and determine their interests, which enables them to negotiate cooperation by appealing to the stakeholders’ needs — while still remaining within the objective parameters of the projects.

An eye for detail

When it comes to IT project management, details count. A great project manager will take a meticulous approach to handling project details big and small, and understanding the impact every detail will have on the overall success of the project. Failure to pay attention to details can mean failure of the entire project.

Decisive problem-solving

In every project, issues and obstacles will arise — and some will require an immediate solution. A good IT project manager must be able to make critical decisions quickly, arriving at the best possible solution in the shortest amount of time to avoid delaying or derailing the project.

Relevant technical skills

While project managers don’t need high-level IT skills to be effective — after all, the skills brought to the table by the IT project team are crucial to success — an effective project manager must have a firm understanding of the programs, software, and platforms that are involved in the project, or that the company works with regularly.

Great project managers will have enough technical skill to be able to take on some of the project tasks themselves. By completing project tasks personally, project managers can earn the respect of the team, which enables them to work more effectively as leaders.

08 Big Data Means Big Jobs 5 Areas to Specialize in for Career Success

In the IT industry, change is accelerating — and a large part of that change is due to big data. With organizations just beginning to realize some of the massive potential that big data holds, the demand for IT professionals working in big data-related areas is rising fast.

In fact, technology research firm Gartner predicts that 2015 will see 1.9 million IT jobs created to support big data in the United States alone, with each of those roles creating positions for three non-IT people. In total, Gartner says, the information economy will generate 6 million jobs over the next four years.

The challenge for businesses is filling those jobs, because there simply isn’t enough talent to go around. Gartner estimates that only one-third of IT jobs can be filled with the current talent pool. So if you’re considering a career in IT, there will be ample opportunity to jump on the big data bandwagon.

Here are four areas revolving around big data that will be in high demand as companies struggle to close the talent gap.

Cloud skills

The cloud can be described as the foundation for big data. All of the areas that feed into this discipline are build on the cloud — big data itself leans heavily on cloud platforms and apps, social media is powered by the cloud, and mobile is basically a personal cloud.

One of the most talked-about advantages of the cloud is the potential cost savings, but today’s cloud environment is about more than saving money. Employers are now looking for IT professionals who can leverage the potential for new capabilities, architectures, services, and approaches to app design — with big data as the lynchpin for powering the effectiveness of the cloud.

Mobile skills

According to Gartner predictions, by 2016:

  • 40 percent of the workforce will be mobile
  • Two-thirds of the mobile workforce will own a smartphone
  • More than 1.6 billion smart mobile devices will be purchased globally

The outlook for tablets is equally strong, with an expected 20 percent of sales organizations to use tablets as their primary mobile platform, and 70 percent of mobile workers using a tablet or hybrid device by 2018. Even now, CIOs are purchasing iPads by the tens of thousands.

With an increasing reliance on mobile devices comes a growing demand for IT professionals who specialize in mobile — including app development, big data integration, and mobile device management. BYOD policies also require mobile specialists to manage the corporate network across disparate platforms.

Social computing

Even as the biggest social networks reach their limits in terms of growth, social is becoming even more important from a business standpoint as organizations develop a more disciplined approach to social media. Gartner forecasts that at least 10 organizations will spend more than $1 billion each on social media in three years.

Part of that spend will be on talent as organizations hire more IT pros who specialize in social media and big data. There are massive amounts of valuable social data available, and as big data tools and platforms become more refined, more businesses seek talent who can extract actionable insight from this information.

Information and analytics

Finally, big data itself will create more job opportunities directly. Organizations can access a continual flood of information from both internal and external sources, providing them with endless opportunities to innovate, optimize, discover new insights, and transform the way decisions are made.

With big data, companies are able to turn information into revenue. This opens up career opportunities for IT pros who can work with structured and unstructured data, and mine “dark data” — data that is being collected, but not used — for business value.

06 Objects on Demand The Technology behind 3D Printing

Devices that can create real objects from “thin air” may seem like a wishful vision of the future — or an episode of Star Trek — but this type of technology is already here. And while 3D printing can’t actually make objects materialize, the near magic of the process holds nearly endless possibilities, now and for the future.

How does 3D printing work? The answer isn’t straightforward, because there are several different types of 3D printing used to make myriad different objects. Here’s a look at the technologies behind 3D printing, and what’s already being done with these incredible devices.

A brief history of 3D printing

The process of 3D printing is an “additive” technology — a 3D printer creates objects by building up a great number of very thin layers to ultimately produce a whole. The first commercial 3D printer was invented in 1984 by Charles Hull. This early technology, which is still in use today, is based on the technique of stereolithography and uses UV laser beams to harden very thin layers of liquid photopolymer inside a vat. Once the object has been completely created, the excess liquid is drained and the object is cured.

This process, called vat polymerization, was carried over into other types of 3D printing technologies. Another common method is DLP projection, which solidifies object layers by cross-section instead of layers using a projector. A third type of liquid 3D printing, called material jetting or polyjet matrix, prints without a vat using an inkjet-style, multi-nozzle head to emit liquid photopolymer, and the layers are solidified with UV light.

More types of 3D printing

With similar characteristics to material jetting, the material extrusion category of 3D printer uses a computer-controlled print head to deposit semi-liquid material (usually heated thermoplastic), which is then hardened in layers. The most commonly used name for this type of 3D printing is fused deposition modeling (FDM), but there is an exact technology called FDM which is patented and trademarked by the inventor. Other names for material extrusion printing include thermoplastic extrusion, plastic jet printing (PJP), fused filament method (FFM), and fused filament fabrication (FFF).

While most 3D extrusion printers use the same type of material as traditional injection molding, some printers of this type have been designed to print objects using a wide range of materials — from edible printing like cheese and chocolate, to printers that can produce objects in concrete or synthetic stone.

The final broad category of 3D printers uses powdered material, which is selectively stuck together in layers with a type of glue called a binder. There are several different subcategories of 3D printers using powdered build material, including:

  • Binder jetting: Also known as “inkjet powder printing,” this process emits the binder from an inkjet-style print head to adhere successive layers of powder. Gypsum-based composite is the most common powder used, and many of these systems can print with up to five colors at resolutions of up to 600 x 540 dpi.
  • 3D sandcasting: In this process, a binder jetting printer is used to print a mold by spraying binder selectively onto sand. Molten liquid metal is poured into the sandcast, and the sand is simply broken away when the metal cools.
  • Binder jetting metal printing: Similar to the gypsum-based powder process, these 3D printers create objects using metal powder, usually bronze or stainless steel. Each layer is dried with heating lamps, and the printed object is infused with additional powder in a kiln. The resulting object is 99.9 percent pure metal.
  • Selective layer sintering (SLS): Combining layers of powder with laser hardening, this 3D printing technique can create objects from a broad range of powdered materials — including polystyrene, nylon, wax, ceramics, glass, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, and several alloy metals. When used to produce metal objects, the process is called direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).

Who uses 3D printing?

Currently, 3D printing is most commonly used in commercial applications. There is a broad range of commercial 3D printers available from several different companies, with costs ranging from ten to twenty thousand, to several hundred thousand dollars.

For the most part, commercial 3D printing is used to create prototypes and pre-production molds, but some companies are using these devices to individually create products for sale — a process known as direct digital manufacturing (DDM). Some of the products created with DDM include jewelry, fashion bags, designer sunglasses, furniture, lightning, and custom motorcycles. The dental industry has made highly practical use of 3D printing, with technology capable of producing custom crowns, bridges, and temporary teeth.

For individuals, there are a number of ways to use 3D printing. Online services like iMaterialize, Sculpteo, and Shapeways allow anyone to upload 3D computer models, and the designs are marketed online and printed when customers purchase them. There are also personal 3D printers available at varying levels of complexity, from full DIY kits to build a printer, to plug-and-play models that work with personal computers.

The future is bright with possibilities for 3D printing technology, in both personal and commercial use.

05 Top Ways to Bridge the Gap between IT and Customers

The idea that the IT staff remains tucked in the back room surrounded by machines, emerging only when some technical problem occurs that no one else understands, is rapidly becoming a myth. Today’s IT shops are moving toward greater collaboration, with the understanding that when users and IT work together, better systems result.

Increased collaboration between IT and customers is best-accomplished through greater integration with the rest of the business. This organizational collaboration can not only improve the technologies being used, but also help IT pros advance their careers through better soft skills and more recognition.

Here are four ways your organization can bridge the gap between IT and its customers, whether they’re business users or company clients.

Partner IT staff with other departments

In an organization with multiple departments, IT typically serves a function for all of them. One of the best ways to bridge tech people with the rest of the company is to assign IT staff to a specific department, allowing them to partner with a business unit and focus on solutions for that unit.

By working directly with another department, IT can solve problems more efficiently. In these types of partnerships, technology may actually be the last solution IT turns to — the partner should first consider whether the issue can be solved by bringing in different people, or implementing new processes. This improves IT efficiency, reduces costs, and diminishes wasted time and resources.

The partner approach can also help IT professionals enhance their careers. Opportunities to work directly with another department allow them to broaden their soft skills and increase problem-solving abilities, while exposing them to different processes within the company.

Consider decentralizing

In larger organizations where IT is responsible for keeping multiple departments up and running, creating centers of innovation can vastly improve processes and efficiency. Build small, specialized IT teams, each focused on working directly with one department, and maintain a core IT department to oversee the individual teams.

This type of structure works best in organizations that rely on innovation and integration, such as medical facilities, corporations, and large-scale or industrial production. A decentralized IT program also encourages tech employees to participate directly in other aspects of the organization, and develop a greater understanding of their focus areas to streamline operations and drive innovation.

Connect IT with end users

Even integrated IT staff are often confined to working within the organization, and rarely have the opportunity to interact with the people who use the company’s products or services. By facilitating interaction between IT employees and end users, you can encourage fresh ideas and stronger motivations to perform.

There are several ways to connect IT people with customers. Regular visits to other business units is a good start, but you can also send IT staff out with sales reps or other external-facing employees to shadow their interactions, or even organize business functions where the staff and customers have the chance to mingle. When IT is able to see the impact their work has on real people, they’re more engaged and motivated to deliver the best possible experience for end users.

Come out of the cave

In small to mid-sized companies and more integrated work environments that don’t necessarily have many departments, IT employees should be encouraged to leave the back room and spend time on the shop floor, so to speak. The more interaction IT has with the rest of the employees and the rest of the business, the better their understanding of their own function within the company.

Through direct observation of business processes, IT professionals can often spot issues that no one had been able to pinpoint previously, and make changes that will improve efficiency. Encourage IT staff to ask other employees questions and listen carefully to the responses, so they can develop a sense of the real needs of the business — and come up with more creative ways to meet them.

Regardless of company size, frequent interaction with other employees and end users can help IT professionals further their careers. They’re able to develop skills that are underused in direct IT work, and demonstrate that tech people are people, too — breaking down the stereotypes and perceptions that would otherwise prevent them from advancing.

04 10 Key Ingredients for a Successful User Experience

As the digital landscape becomes increasingly crowded across every channel, and users continue to tune out traditional advertising, it’s more challenging than ever to differentiate online. For this reason, more companies are seeking IT pros who are able to provide exceptional user experiences.

What makes a great user experience? Here are 10 important considerations for making your websites, apps, or programs user-friendly — and more likely to succeed.

1. Familiarity

The majority of companies still use Windows tools and operating systems for one primary reason: It’s what they’re used to. Familiarity is a key component for a successful user experience. Basically, it means that accomplishing something within the environment should be obvious and not require explanation, such as a back button — a familiar tool that’s used in every Internet browser.

2. Responsive feedback

Websites, programs, and applications often include a number of micro-tasks, such as login screens. These tasks should include validation through feedback whenever possible — such as notifying users when they’ve successfully logged in. Without relevant and responsive feedback, users end up focusing intensely on micro-tasks and become frustrated.

3. Smooth performance

It goes without saying that performance is a crucial issue for user experience. If a website, program, or app suffers from performance issues, the user perceives the product as poorly designed or malfunctioning, and won’t be likely to continue using that product.

4. Intuitiveness

This attribute relates to the level or degree to which the use of an application, website, or program is obvious to the user. In addition to an intuitive interface, efficiency in features and functionality can enhance the user experience — particularly if there are more advanced tools that can be used with greater efficiency as the user becomes more familiar with the product.

5. Utility

Products that are actually helpful to users in accomplishing real goals deliver a better user experience. If a program, website, or application solves a business problem but disregards user needs, the experience is diminished for the user.

6. Relevant content delivery

A satisfying user experience should include relevant and valuable content, delivered in a timely manner. Ecommerce giant Amazon has mastered this aspect of the user experience with features like product recommendations, customer reviews, and a powerful and intuitive search function that deliver the right content at the right time.

7. Internal consistency

The user experience is enhanced when an interface or application handles similar tasks in similar ways, making the overall experience more intuitive and shortening the learning curve. In addition to internally consistent functionality, consistence in visual design is vital for presenting a professional and well-organized product.

8. External consistency

This refers to the visual appearance of a program, website, application, or interface aligning with its purpose and matching the expectations of its target audience — such as a polished and professional look for a website offering legal services, versus a fun and colorful theme for a site offering products for children.

9. Contextually appropriate

The interface for the user experience should match the environment in which the product will be used. For example, a product used for military applications should be more compact and rugged than one used in a restaurant, where the environment allows for a larger and more detailed interface.

10. Trustworthiness

In many cases, there is an implicit trust when users first work with an application or interface that the product will work as intended. Any issues that impact user engagement, such as error pages or non-working features, can erode that trust and diminish the user experience.