Friday, December 29, 2006

The State of the CIO -- 2007

No organization of any size can operate efficiently without information technology (IT) -- the use of technology in managing and processing information. Larger organizations employ Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to coordinate this effort.

CIO magazine surveyed more than 500 CIOs on various topics for the 2007 version of their annual report called The State of the CIO. Since Web-related projects are coordinated, either directly or indirectly, through IT departments, Web professionals should be aware of the challenges facing today's IT leaders. Let's review a summary of the survey results.

More than half of CIOs expect to add full-time staff in 2007. The top three skills most in demand are the following:
  • project management (52%)
  • application development (50%)
  • database management (39%)
Web professionals with expertise in these areas can get the attention of CIOs with documented experience in one or more of these three areas.

Web-related technology solutions were rated lower on the list of skill sets in demand:
  • Web services (32%)
  • Website development (26%)
Web-related technologies that are part of Web services include XML and SOAP.

CIOs need help. They are swamped with work citing the biggest barrier to job effectiveness as follows:
  • Overwhelming backlog of requests/projects
The best way for Web professionals to help CIOs with this backlog is to provide solutions that help CIOs meet their expectations for 2007. When asked "What impact do you expect IT will have in the year ahead?" CIOs responded as follows:
  • Enable business innovation (54%)
  • Reduce business costs (48%)
  • Improve customer (external) satisfaction (48%)
  • Create competitive advantage (38%)
Web professionals should consider setting goals for the New Year to document how their Web projects meet the above four criteria. By quantifying these results you can get the attention of business leaders and create your own competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Before your next meeting with a business leader to discuss a Web project download and review a copy of the 2007 State of the CIO survey. The 16-page summary is free, but registration is required. By understanding the IT needs of an organization you will be in better position to solve problems, overcome objections and land the assignment.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Outlook 2007, Part 2

This article is the second of a two-part series [ view Part 1 ] on career prospects for Web designers and developers in 2007. In Part 2 of Outlook 2007 we'll take a closer look at the demand for technology professionals and identify three skill sets that Web professionals should focus on developing in the New Year.

According to 2007 Job Forecast, a survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals in private sector companies, 40 percent report they will increase their number of full-time, permanent employees in 2007. Information Technology is one of the areas that employers will be recruiting for the most (13 percent of respondents). For a detailed evaluation of corporate hiring plans access 2007 Annual Job Forecast (pdf) available from

A closer look at the information technology (IT) marketplace reveals that skilled IT professionals are in demand. According to the
Robert Half Technology 2007 Salary Guide, one and a half million new computer and IT-related jobs will be created between 2004 and 2014. The Salary Guide helps identify the specific skills required to fill those job in 2007 and what the salaries are likely to be for Web professionals with those skills.

The IT positions in the United States that are expected to experience greater than average demand in 2007 are as follows:
  • Software Developers
  • Web Developers
  • Data Warehouse Managers
  • Project Managers
  • Application Architects
"Web developers are in high demand as web-based tools, services and applications – collectively referred to as Web 2.0 – gain popularity among companies of all sizes and industries," according to the Salary Guide.

Three areas that Web professionals should focus on developing in 2007 that relate directly to the five in-demand areas are as follows:
  • programming skills
  • database expertise
  • project management experience
Access the Robert Half Technology Website to obtain a FREE copy of the 2007 Salary Guide.

A closer look at the IT hiring landscape can be gleamed from the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report , a survey of more than 1,400 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) from companies with more than 100 employees.

Here are the skill sets that are most in demand by CIOs at large companies:
  • Microsoft Windows administration (Server 2000/2003) (77%)
  • network administration (Cisco, Nortel, Novell) (71%)
  • database management (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2) (63%)
On the programming side these larger companies tend to be more Microsoft-centric with 23% of CIOs reporting demand for Microsoft-specific skills (i.e. ASP.NET). Open source Web programming skills (i.e. PHP) were not reported to be in demand at these larger companies.

Here's the three-step plan for career development in 2007:
  1. seek opportunities to develop project-management skills -- the ability to develop a project plan and deliver on that plan in a timely and cost-effective manner

  2. develop programming skills -- ASP.NET if you are focusing on larger companies; PHP (open source) if your target market is smaller organizations

  3. develop database skills -- Oracle, SQL Server, DB2 if you are focusing on larger companies; MySQL (open source) if your target market is smaller organizations
By developing a project plan to improve two skills -- one programming skill and one database skill -- your skill set will expand, your confidence will grow and your marketability will improve.

Here's wishing all of my readers a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Outlook 2007, Part 1

This article is the first of a two-part series [ View Part 2 ] on career prospects for Web designers and developers in 2007. In Part 1 of Outlook 2007 we'll take a broad view of the economy and identify one area of development that Web technology professionals should learn more about in the New Year.

One snapshot of the economy comes from Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of large corporations with more 10 million total employees. They predict slow steady growth for the first half of 2007.

Here are a few key findings from a recent survey of 124 CEOs:
  • nearly 70% expect sales to increase over the next six months
  • more than one third expect employment at their U.S. operations to increase
The biggest concern among CEOs:
  • more than 50% cited the rising cost of health care as the greatest cost pressure facing their business
The implications from this survey are clear: workers should continue to find employment opportunities during the first half of 2007, but don't be surprised if an increasing number of these opportunities take the form of contract work without benefits.

Complete details are available in the quarterly CEO Economic Outlook Survey available from the Business Roundtable.

For a closer look at job opportunities within the information technology sector, let's see what Chief Information Officers (CIOs) have to say. The Forrester/ITAA U.S. Tech Sector Index reached a five and a half year high in its most recent quarterly survey. "Improved profits and surprisingly optimistic CIOs drove the index to its highest level since Q1 2001," according to a five-page report summary.

However, the IT sector is going through a period of "refinement and digestion." According to the report, " . . . the current period . . . should end around 2008, and it is becoming clearer that Web 2.0, software-driven computing will likely lead the charge."

While the report did not define Web 2.0 the implication is that Web professionals with knowledge and experience in designing and developing database-driven Web applications will fair well in 2007 and 2008.

On a local level, here are two opportunities to connect with technology leaders to learn more about their perspectives on the technology economy in Massachusetts:
In Outlook 2007, Part 2 we'll take a closer look at the demand for technology professionals and identify three skill sets that Web professionals should focus on developing in the New Year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Birthday CSS

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) celebrated its 10-year anniversary this week. In an unrelated event Adobe Systems launched CSS Advisor, a community-driven Website. Designers and developers who use CSS will want to take a look at this free service. The location acts as a central repository for cross-browser/cross-platform CSS issues and solutions.

CSS Advisor is currently in public beta and is available to anyone with an Adobe login and password. Registration is free. The site helps professionals in the following three areas:
  • Find solutions to CSS and browser compatibility issues
  • Share solutions and workarounds you've discovered with the community
  • Comment on and improve existing solutions
The plan is for CSS Advisor to be incorporated into the next version of Dreamweaver where it will automatically detect CSS compatibility issues in your code and take you to the proper page on the CSS Advisor site.

While you are at the Adobe Website check out the Dreamweaver Developer Center. Articles, tutorials and downloads cater to a wide range of developer experience from
Building your first CSS site to Adobe Spry, a new Ajax framework available for download. If you are new to Ajax, check out the Spry Demos Gallery.

To learn more about CSS Advisor, access an InfoWorld article. Also, check out editorial commentary at Digital Media Online.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Internet Explorer 7: CSS Support

With the recent release of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) for Windows, Web designers and developers may finally get relief from the challenge of cross browser compatibility. Or will we?

To provide the Web development community with answers, O'Reilly Media, Inc. has just released a document that details support for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) in the new IE7. Here are a few topics covered in this timely report:
  • Flaws in IE6
  • Fixes in IE7
  • What you won't find in IE7
  • Hacks and Workarounds in IE7
In addition the document presents a rationale for how quickly IE7 might replace IE6 as the primary browser that the vast majority of Internet users will use to view Web pages. For example, IE7 is now the second most popular Web browser surpassing both Firefox 1.5 and Firefox 2.0 in November.

Every Web professional should be current on issues related to design and development for different operating systems and browser products. If you'd like to learn more, Releasing CSS: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love IE7 is available for purchase and instant download. The investment in this 69-page document is only $10.

[Full Disclosure: As the publisher of this blog I have no financial arrangement with O'Reilly Media, Inc. and do not benefit financially or otherwise from recommending its products. I have been searching the Internet for the past month to recommend resources to help designers and developers identify challenges and solutions relating to the recent release of both IE7 and Firefox 2 and have concluded that this is the most comprehensive product available at this time.]

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Microsoft Vista/Office Launch Tour

Windows Vista is the highly touted, long overdue operating system from Microsoft. It will eventually replace Windows XP.

Office 2007 is Microsoft's latest upgrade to the Office 2003 suite of productivity tools which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, among other programs.

Microsoft wants to tell you all about
Windows Vista and Office 2007 and has reserved the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center for one giant marketing extravaganza! Boston is the fourth stop on a planned 15-city tour designed to promote the first simultaneous upgrade of Microsoft's operating system and Office suite since 1995.

The giveaways are usually top of the line. The party is free. And space is limited. So act now if you would like to attend Ready for a New Day: Launch Tour 2007 on Wednesday, January 24, 2007.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Boston Market -- December

The Monster Local Employment Index for Boston reached a new high in October. "In addition to heightened seasonal demand for retail workers, the index for Boston showed an increase in online job opportunities in IT, science and engineering professionals," according to a Monster press release.

If you are a recent college graduate your prospects of finding a quality job are especially good according to Job Outlook 2007, an annual survey published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

"This marks the fourth straight year that employers have projected percentage increases in the double digits," says a NACE representative. According to the survey, employers plan to target the following degree areas to fill positions:
  • business
  • engineering
  • computer-related
Not all computer-related skills are valued equally by employers, however. The job market analysis below reveals which computer-related skills are most in-demand in the greater Boston area [ along with the number of jobs listed for that skill at ].

The following skills are typically associated with Web Design:
  • Photoshop [ 67 ]
  • CSS [ 67 ]
  • Flash [ 52 ]
  • Dreamweaver [ 35 ]
  • XHTML [ 18 ]
The following skills are typically associated with Web Development:
The following skills are typically associated with data management:
Web design skills continue to lag behind Web programming skills. Database skills (including XML) continue to be in highest demand by Boston area employers. Average salaries reflect this demand curve and are listed below:
For a more complete list of skills, along with direct access to job postings at both and, review Boston Market -- 4th Quarter, 2006.