Friday, December 23, 2005

Outlook 2006, Part 2

Four out of five small and mid-size business (SMB) leaders expect an improvement in business over the next six months. This same percentage plan to invest in technology for their business. These businesses provide approximately 75% of the new jobs added to the U.S. economy.

Here are a few findings from a survey of more than 1,000 SMB leaders:

  • 83% strongly agree that the Internet helps them run their companies
  • 22% currently make use of the Web as a marketing tool
  • 43% of non-Internet marketers plan to begin using the Web as a marketing tool over the next six months

"SMB leaders planning decreases in online activity are virtually non-existent," according to a representative of who commissioned the study. A press release of the first SMB State of the Union study is available for review.

In another study released earlier this year SMB owners were asked how they measured the success of their Website. Here are the responses:

  • customer and prospect comments (54%)
  • site activity, traffic and number of visitors (48%)
  • sales leads (36%)
  • online sales (24%)
  • efficiencies of internal processes, such as faster payment processing or fewer phone calls (21%)

A press release of Interland's Summer 2005 Small and Medium-sized Business Barometer is available for review.

Opportunities abound for Web developers to help SMB leaders grow their business. The results of these two studies indicate that business leaders are not looking for Web designers, they are looking for problem solvers who can help them market their business through the innovative use of Web-based technology. Here's a three-step strategy to consider:

  • download a graphical presentation (pdf) of the SMB State of the Union study
  • share this information with any current or prospective clients
  • open a dialogue to discuss how you can help the business owner measure the success of their Web efforts using the five criteria listed above
Small and mid-sized businesses have moved beyond "brochureware." Make a New Year's Resolution to continue to develop skills that will position you as a business partner who can help solve problems with the creative use of technology.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Outlook 2006, Part 1

Corporate IT hiring continues at its strongest pace in the last three and a half years. Overall, 13 percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) at large companies plan to hire staff during the first quarter, compared to just one percent who plan to decrease staff. This net 12 percent gain matches last quarter and is 33 percent higher than a year ago at this time.

Survey results are part of a quarterly national poll of more than 1,400 CIOs at U.S. companies with more than 100 employees. Details are available from
Robert Half Technology.

Microsoft Windows (NT/2000/XP) administration expertise and SQL Server management continue to be the technical skills that show the strongest demand.

In addition, CIO magazine's fourth annual
State of the CIO survey finds that one trend that continues is the pressure on IT executives to drive business innovation with technology. CIOs say the skill sets needed are less technical (i.e. programmers) and more analytical and managerial (i.e. strategists and project managers). In fact, project management is at the top of the skills that CIOs value most.

Based on these two surveys Web developers can get the attention of large company CIOs by focusing on three areas in 2006:
  • Upgrade your database skills by adding SQL Server to your technical skill set
  • Develop one new project where you can document helping solve a business need though the innovative use of technology
  • Document your project management skills by delivering this new project on time and under budget by working as part of (or ideally by leading) a team

Fortunately, developing technical expertise need not be expensive. Microsoft offers a SQL Server 2005 Express Edition available for FREE download. In addition, Microsoft also offers nine FREE online courses to help you develop SQL Server 2005 skills!

With a working knowledge of SQL Server and ASP.NET you can develop and manage a Web project that is database-driven and demonstrates the innovative use of technology designed to help solve a pressing business need.

Once complete, CIOs would love to hear about your solution. To help put you in touch with technology officers, Beantown Web has introduced a new service called Web Apprentices Career Center. In particular, check out one-click access to the largest 25 publicly-held technology companies in Massachusetts which are listed in the Boston Globe as the High Tech 25.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Java -- What Happened?

Java is a Web programming language developed by
Sun Microsystems in the mid-1990s as a potential antidote to Microsoft's operating system domination. However, today's Web landscape appears to be shifting in ways that disadvantage Java.

article in BusinessWeek reveals that the next generation of Web application developers are leaning toward open-source tools featuring LAMP (Linux~Apache~MySQL~PHP) and Microsoft's .NET technologies.

According to a Sun executive Java remains a mainstay of large, complex corporate applications. For example, IBM's
WebSphere technology is based on Java. The technology also has a strong presence in cell phone and mobile game programming.

So where should a Web developer focus his/her energies in 2006? Java? LAMP? .NET? At least one of these three competing skill sets needs to part of your Web development toolkit. And LAMP and .NET appear to be the rising stars.

Full disclosure: Last Thursday I attended the Boston leg of Microsoft's worldwide
Launch Tour 2005 along with 2,000 other (mostly) middle aged white guys. The day-long geekfest featured marketing presentations, a box lunch and product givaways, all FREE! Not aware that Microsoft was on tour? Check out a Special Edition of the READY Launch Tour 2005.

Can walking away with fully functional copies of Microsoft's Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005, as well as training vouchers, influence my view of the future of Web development? Most likely. That demonstrates the power of Microsoft's marketing muscle. But, facts are facts; and Beantown Web will continue to present a fair and balanced view of training and career opportunities for Web Developers in the greater Boston area.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Predictions 2006

Disruptive technology shifts will shape the IT industry in 2006, according to a report released by IDC. The company's annual predictions are designed to identify and highlight key trends and pivotal choices facing the IT industry in the year ahead.

Two of these disruptions are as follows:
  • The Open Source Effect - 'open innovation' in IT product and service development
  • The Google Effect - online delivery of IT as a service

Web developers should position themselves now to capitalize on these disruptive effects. Both of these trends involve Web development technologies.

The Open Source Effect refers to the increased use of open-source (free) Web technologies, standards and techniques such as PHP, XML and Ajax. IBM is one vendor that has embraced the use of open-source standards. The company demonstrates its commitment to PHP, for example, by posting a free online tutorial for developers to access, along with a list of links to additional open-source resources.

The Google Effect refers to the development of Web-based applications that go beyond static, HTML-based Web pages. Microsoft is one vendor that has acknowledged this "sea change" and has upped the ante with the release of its Web application technology, ASP.NET 2.0 and development tool sets, Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition.

Which ever direction you choose -- open source (PHP) or vendor-specific (ASP.NET) -- now is the time to position your Web development career for anticipated growth opportunities in the New Year.

A press release detailing additional IT trends is available at the IDC Website. A detailed report is also available (registration required). The report is entitled IDC Predictions 2006: It's Gut-Check Time, As Disruptive Business Models Gain Traction. IDC is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology and telecommunications industries.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Boston Market -- December

The Monster Employment Index for the month of November jumped to an all-time high indicating broad growth in online recruitment activity. One sector that registered a significant increase in online job availability during the month was "computer and mathematical" which saw a significant spike in growth indicating higher demand for IT professionals, according to the report.

December is an excellent time to begin planning for 2006. If you want your career to take a different TACK (a change in one's course of action), then December's Boston Market analysis can help.

This month we'll explore four segments of the Web technology marketplace -- Tools, Acronyms, Containers, and Knowledge. If you are considering a career upgrade in 2006 you should improve your technology skills in the following four areas:
  • Tools (software)
  • Acronyms (languages)
  • Containers (databases)
  • Knowledge (certifications)

A keyword search of job openings posted at indicates the following (number of job posting in parentheses):

Tools (software):

Acronyms (languages):

Containers (databases):

Knowledge (certifications):

  • review the July 24, 2005 issue of Beantown Web for detailed analysis of technology certifications

As you can see, knowledge of Tools (software) can only offer double-digit job opportunities. However, expertise in certain key technology Acronyms (languages), such as SQL and .NET, can expand your opportunity base to triple-digit possibilities. And Container (database) expertise can offer the greatest returns of all.

If you want your career to take a different TACK in 2006, focus on the AC part of the opportunity market by developing your language and database skills. AC will provide the electricity to light up your career opportunities in The New Year.