Making a prediction in the tech and IT sectors is often difficult given the big impacts that seemingly small technologies and trends can have on the whole corporate world. Just look at the marks that the cloud, the iPhone and social media have left on tech hiring and the job market in general. That said, sometimes experts make creepily accurate predictions, and those kind of estimations can have lasting benefits, especially when hiring managers create strategies around them.
So, let's take a look at what the industry predicted in late 2014 and early 2015, and compare those educated guesses with what's currently happening in the IT hiring sector.
What we saw coming
Hiring managers might not be positioned on the cutting edge of the tech industry or always up to date on the biggest IT trends, but there are some IT professional types that have been in demand for years now, and nothing is changing anytime soon.
Everything runs on software. So, it shouldn't come as any surprise to hiring managers that application developers continue to be in high demand, as many experts predicted only 12 months ago.
"40% of C-suite leaders stated that they will need app devs in 2016."
In 2014, Computerworld's 2015 Forecast of the most popular IT skills asserted that 48 percent of IT executives anticipated hiring programmers over the next 12 months. And it stayed – relatively – the same over the year. Computerworld's 2016 Forecast indicated that demand remains high for those professionals, with 40 percent of C-suite leaders stating that they will need application developers in 2016.
Big data/data science/analytics
Data has always proven useful to the corporate world, but in the past few years, more organizations have begun to analyze more information in better ways, giving birth to the big data trend. Making a prediction in this regard was simple for some, since it just seemed obvious that IT professionals with big data skills would be in high demand.
In fact, the need for data scientists and analysts is higher than some think. Robert Half Technology placed big data engineer and data scientist roles in the two and three spots, respectively, on its "8 High-Paying Careers for 2016" list, as it anticipates salaries for those positions will rise approximately 9 percent over 2015 pay rates.
With new technologies comes a need for tech support, and in the past few years, innovations have been introduced at rapid rates. Therefore, it was pretty safe to assume that help desk professionals were in high demand. In fact, tech support hiring predictions remain stagnant, according to Computerworld, as Andrew C. Jackson, president and co-founder of BravoTech, told the source that "Demand for this position is a function of growth."
What surprised the industry
It might seems like everything that happened in 2015 was anticipated long in advance, but there a few unforeseen trends that have impacted 2015 and potentially 2016.
Move out of Silicon Valley
As covered in previous blog posts, Silicon Valley isn't the only tech hiring hotspot. Smaller organizations and competitive startups have started to set up shop in unlikely geographical locations in an attempt to convince talented tech professionals to join their companies. Gig contributor Amanda Griffin explained that Huntsville, Alabama ranks second on a list of the best places to work in IT, for example. This means goods news and bad, depending on the size of an enterprise, but all in all, this gives more laid-back IT professionals an option to not work in high-stress environments or put their full salaries toward rent. In fact, this is likely an advantage for smaller organizations, as Max Lynch, CEO of Ionic, noted in a recent tweet.
One way to compete with big tech on hiring is to not force talent to uproot their family and move to the most expensive city in the US
— Max Lynch (@maxlynch) December 3, 2015
IT architecture demand
The popularity of the cloud should mean that companies need fewer tech professionals with talents in building IT architectures, but that surprisingly doesn't seem to be the case. According to Computerworld, 42 percent of executives are looking for those individuals over the next year.
As it turns out, architecture matters more in a business sense than it ever has in the past, and this has driven demand for systems administrators and engineers through the roof.
The issue of diversity in tech and IT industries has been around for years, but in 2015, this conversation received a shot in the arm after The Wall Street Journal reported on tech leaders' diversity reports right as the year kicked off. Now, organizations across the U.S. are creating strategies to get women more interested in tech roles and more accepted in these communities. Perhaps 2016 is the year that hiring biases are squashed.
With 2015 down, the IT and tech sector must look toward the future and develop hiring strategies that account for today's most popular trends, as well as for sudden shifts in industry standards and beliefs.