Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Next Five Years | Part 2

Part 1 of a two-part "Skills of the Future" series identifies the skills that information technology (IT) managers project they will need over the next five years.

Part 2 reveals the largest single potential growth opportunity for Web technology professionals over the next five years.

Skills of the Future | Part 2

A research study released last week projects that the Web browser market for portable devices will explode by nearly an order of magnitude (10-fold increase) over the next five years. Here are the projections for Web enabled phones:

  • 2007 | 76 million devices
  • 2013 | 700 million devices

Mobile browsing is set for a major growth trend, and smartphones, like the iPhone, are leading the way. According to the Silicon Alley Insider (quoting m metrics), nearly 85 percent of iPhone owners browse the Web on their phones vs. just 13 percent for the overall U.S. mobile market.

Mobile Developers Needed

Wikipedia offers an informative overview of the mobile development landscape. A few of the more popular foundational skills needed to thrive in the mobile development space include the following:

  • Java
  • C++
  • C#

Web professionals who want to focus on mobile development, but who don't wish to delve into these programming languages, can expand their opportunities by developing skill proficiency with "the two biggest variables that will spur mobile browsing", according to the research study:

  • Ajax (JavaScript + XML)
  • RSS

A press release of The Mobile Browser Market is available at the ABI Research website.

The Next Step

Web professionals should check out the W3C Mobile Web Initiative to learn more about mobile development. "The Mobile Web Initiative's goal is to make browsing the Web from mobile devices a reality", according to Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the Cambridge-based W3C and inventor of the World Wide Web.

Then, go to, "the world's most exciting mobile development community." Once there you can perform a Mobility Check by entering a Web address, previewing that website in various mobile device emulators and receiving a free analysis of how that site's web content is likely to function on a mobile device.

Lastly, mark your calendar for July 15 and attend the next meeting of the Web Innovators Group which has been organized to promote Boston’s Web and mobile innovation community. Details about the next meeting will be provided in an upcoming Beantown Web posting.

Go to >>> The Next Five Years | Part 1

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Next Five Years | Part 1

Part 1 of a two-part "Skills of the Future" series identifies the skills that information technology (IT) managers project they will need over the next five years.

Part 2 reveals the largest single potential growth opportunity for Web technology professionals over the next five years.

Skills of the Future | Part 1

A global survey of more than 3,500 information technology (IT) managers identifies the current tech skills in demand and projects tech skills that will be needed over the next five years.

Power Shift

Respondents to the survey were asked to rate skills on a scale from one (lowest) to seven (highest). Currently, the three leading IT skills are the following (percentage of skills receiving a six or seven rating):

  • security (74 percent)
  • general networking (66 percent)
  • operating systems (66 percent)

The survey reveals that the following skill will grow in importance over the next five years to become the number one most valuable IT skill:

  • wireless & radio frequency (RF) mobile technology

In an interview with ComputerWorld, a survey spokesperson stated the following:

"The findings are a warning to educational institutions to prepare IT graduates with coursework in wireless topics, including standards, software and hardware."

In an interview with eWeek, the same spokesperson stated the following:

"We'd certainly advise any school with an engineering or technology program for students to add wireless components, because we're going to need it."

Other skills expected to grow in importance through 2013 include the following technologies:

Additional Survey Results

Survey participants said that the top two things IT departments should be doing to grow tech staffers' skills are as follows:

  • sending them to external, professional training classes (42 percent)
  • offering rewards for workers who enhance their skill sets (41 percent)

In addition, the most likely positions to open up over the next five years will include the following skills:

  • programming
  • coding
  • developing

The study was commissioned by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and conducted by The Center for Strategy Research, a Boston-based market research firm. A press release is available for review. To review comments about the survey findings, access a related Information Week article.

The Next Step

According to the survey programmers/coders/developers will prosper over the next five years. Web professionals can continue to increase their skill profile by becoming proficient in the following Web 2.0-related programming skills:

  • JavaScript
  • ActionScript

JavaScript is the foundation of Ajax and ActionScript is fundamental in creating Rich Internet Applications in a Adobe's Flash environment.

The Top 20 Skills (see right-hand column) related to these Web 2.0 technologies include the following:

  • XML (#5)
  • JavaScript (#7)
  • Flash (#13)
  • Ajax (#15)

Adobe Flex and Adobe AIR technologies, while not in high demand currently, are worth monitoring, along with Microsoft's Silverlight technology.

Go to >>> The Next Five Years | Part 2

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Boston Market -- 2008, Second Quarter

Despite gloomy economic numbers the job market for information technology (IT) professionals remains strong.

In fact, the job market for IT professionals grew more than nine percent from February 2007 to February 2008, according to the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses (NACCB). A report entitled NACCB March 2008 IT Employment Index (pdf) states that IT employment in the United States stands at an all-time high of nearly 3.9 million workers.

Boston Market

Beantown Web's monthly Boston Market analysis confirms these findings. A comparison of job postings from early January to early April reveals that there are more job postings now than three months ago for 17 of the top 20 Web-related skills in the greater Boston area.

The Top 20 Web Technologies in Boston have been updated for April and appear in the right-hand column.

The Biggest Losers

The only three technologies to post losses during the first quarter include the following LAMP stack technologies:

  • #17 MySQL (down 3 postings)
  • #19 Apache (down 11 postings)
  • #21 PHP (down 35 postings)

This may reflect Microsoft's relentless marketing efforts to position .NET as the Web technology of choice, especially in enterprise-scale operations. The three-month trends for comparable Microsoft-centric skills are as follows:

  • #4 SQL Server (up 114 postings)
  • #6 C# (up 86 postings)
  • #10 ASP.NET (up 56 postings)
  • #16 VB.NET (up 26 postings)
  • #20 IIS (up 25 postings)
  • #23 Visual Studio (up 60 postings)

Web Designers

Job postings for skills traditionally associated with Graphic & Web Design are also up over a three-month period. However, these skills offer a lower demand profile in the marketplace. A few of these designer skills include the following:

  • #11 Photoshop (up 48 postings)
  • #13 Flash (up 65 postings)
  • #18 Illustrator (up 41 postings)
  • #28 Dreamweaver (up 10 postings)
  • #29 InDesign (up 7 postings)

Skills that bridge the gap between Web developer and Web designer include the following:

  • #7 JavaScript (up 67 postings)
  • #15 Ajax (up 44 postings)

Emerging Technologies

It is worth mentioning that caution is advised when investing time and energy in learning emerging technologies. The following technologies may rate high on the "Web 2.0" buzz meter, but currently rank relatively low on the marketplace demand scale:

  • #34 Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (65 postings)
  • #40 Ruby (45 postings)
  • #42 Fireworks (33 postings)
  • #46 Rails (23 postings)
  • #50 Adobe Flex (8 postings)
  • #51 Silverlight (8 postings)
  • #53 WordPress (5 postings)
  • #54 Drupal (4 postings)

The Second Quarter

Web technology professionals can not afford to let their skills atrophy. Should the economy continue to display weakness, job losses in the IT sector could emerge. Now, more than ever, it is important to upgrade technology skills to keep pace with market demand.

Evaluate your current skill set against The Top 20 Web Technologies in Boston. If you find your knowledge lacking in Top Ten skills, upgrade now starting with Structured Query Language (SQL). This universal language of databases is not likely to vacate the #1 spot any time soon. Like the Boston Celtics, SQL now has home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

The ability to capture information and display it in a Web page using SQL is a fundamental skill of Web development, regardless of whether that database is one of the following:

  • Oracle (#2)
  • SQL Server (#4)
  • MySQL (#17)

Set a goal to develop one new skill during the second quarter and post a demonstration project that displays that skill. The Web will continue to evolve, and the Web professional who maintains skills that the marketplace demands will live in a technology world of abundance.