Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Seven Year High

Technology workers are in demand as witnessed by a recent report issued by the
Bureau of Labor Statistics -- the unemployment rate for information technology (IT) professionals currently stands at a mere 2%.

The industry now employs more than 3.5 million people in the United States. This employment trend in the tech sector represents a seven year high. A summary of these findings is available courtesy of Information Week.

Let's take a look at the winners and losers in the current information technology (IT) jobs boom and identify one winning strategy that all Web technology professionals should be aware of moving forward.

Management Expertise

U.S. tech workers come in all flavors. One of the largest increases in the past seven years is in the category of management. IT management jobs account for 12% (423,000) of computer-related jobs. Manager jobs are up more than 50% since 2001. The reason for the increase is that more information technology professionals are taking on responsibilities in the following areas:

  • leading projects
  • managing systems
  • coordinating outsourcers & others vendors

Highlighting any of these three areas of responsibility in a cover letter and resume will go a long way toward enhancing employment opportunities.

Positioning for Future Opportunities

While the report identifies winners (software engineers) and losers (support specialists), it does not isolate trends for Web technology professionals. So, we'll have to read between the lines to identify how Web designers and developers can position themselves for future growth opportunities.

All websites are hosted on Web servers. The Web server marketplace comes in two general flavors:

  • Apache [open source]
  • Internet Information Server (IIS) [Microsoft]

As Web 2.0 continues to generate demand for dynamic, data-driven Websites, opportunities will continue to expand for Web professionals who can demonstrate scripting skills and database connectivity expertise. Two general skill-set options include the following:

  • PHP / MySQL [open source]
  • ASP.NET / SQL Server [Microsoft]

Apache, while still the market leader, continues to lose market share to Microsoft and stands at its lowest percentage of market dominance (54%) since the end of 1998. Microsoft (32%) continues to gain ground according to Netcraft's July 2007 Web Server Survey.

Web Development Implications

Microsoft's annual revenue for the recently concluded fiscal year surpassed $50 billion. Revenue growth can be traced to many factors including an increase in sales for development and database tools Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. The beginning of the slide in Apache dominance can be traced directly to Microsoft's release of these products in late 2005.

Look for Microsoft to enter a new phase of growth as their vast marketing machine gears up for the release of Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008 on February 27, 2008.

Where Do You Want to Go Today?

Prediction: Microsoft will become the dominant Web server platform by the end of 2008 -- or at least spend a boatload of money trying.

Web designers and developers who are open to learning Microsoft-centric tool sets should consider positioning themselves now for future opportunities by downloading Visual Web Developer 2005 Express and SQL Server 2005 Express (both FREE tools) and learning ASP.NET today.