Hot Jobs in IT: Propelled by Exponential Growth in Big Data, Cloud Computing Security

The most in-demand IT job for 2016 is project manager – and if history holds true, that bodes well for the U.S. economy.

For years now, Randstad has closely tracked the demand for jobs in six key areas, and the appetite for IT project managers has typically been an indicator for the performance of the entire economy. And in our 2016 Hot Jobs report released last month, project managers led the IT pack – followed by software engineers (with a focus on Java) and network & security engineers.

Why the link between project manager and economic strength? The reason is apparent when one examines how IT project managers are normally used in today’s increasingly-digital environment. Companies in growth mode across all industries tend to aggressively invest in new initiatives to support that growth – and those projects usually require considerable IT support, with project managers necessary to shepherd them to completion.

Beyond the health of the economy, the hot jobs also reflect the changing nature of information technology and the integral role it plays within virtually any business. Increasingly, the catalysts of the rising demand for the hottest jobs stem from the universal acceptance of two significant technology innovations -- big data and predictive analytics; and cloud computing.

Big data stems big demand

The field of big data is getting – well -- big. Very big.

IDC predicts1 that the market for big data services and technology will grow at an annual rate of about 26 percent through 2018. That is about six times the growth rate of the entire IT market.

Ever-increasing numbers of organizations – of all sizes – are seeking to wrest insights from vast supplies of structured and unstructured data that can add significant value to their businesses. Whether used to garner operational efficiencies or customer experience improvements, big data can uncover previously unknown truths that may quickly yield tangible competitive advantages.

And those organizations that are investing heavily in big data require the services of increasing numbers of project managers (our “hottest” IT job for 2016) and software engineers (#2 on the list).

Not surprisingly, the emergence of big data has made an impact on staffing companies as well; particularly in how they can leverage data to boost their sales and recruiting efforts. A staffing organizations ability to utilize technology and data in this manner continues to emerge and will be more prevalent in the near future.

Cloud computing’s bright future

The strong growth in big data is one key factor prompting organizations to attain more capacity to procure, store, access and protect that information.

Thus, companies are relying more and more on cloud computing, a secure environment in which data can be stored and processed via off-site public or private data centers. The cloud also supports mobility, enabling employees to more readily work anywhere, anytime.

A whopping 95 percent of organizations are using cloud computing today, according to a recent survey2 of IT professionals. And there is no slowdown in sight – indeed, one research firm predicts3 the cloud storage market will more than triple between 2015 and 2020.

While the cloud enables companies to rely less on in-house IT infrastructure, it does open a new array of employment demand for the top two hot jobs (project managers, software engineers), as well as such specialty positions as cloud services architects, engineers and administrators. Also, the vast numbers of companies that offer third-party services to meet the increasing need for cloud computing are all experiencing a heightened demand for cloud-savvy experts.

Steadily striving for security

Companies are well aware that big data, cloud computing and other new technologies are creating unprecedented concerns about security. That helps explain the growing demand for the industry’s #3 hottest job – network & security engineers.

Fifty-one percent of respondents to a 2015 Randstad Technologies survey4 of IT professionals indicated they plan to increase investments in security management systems in 2016, and that will further heighten the demand for expertise in security engineering for all types and sizes of organizations.

The rise in data volume and companies’ reliance on it makes the threat of breaches all the more critical, whether data is housed internally or in the cloud. Threat monitoring, vulnerability management and web security architecture are among the many duties companies require proficiency in to keep their data and systems well protected.

Ironically, big data not only increases the need for security but can also be an important resource in detecting fraud, as well as predicting the likelihood of its occurrence so that companies can take preventive action. Big data can also a useful resource in helping organizations adhere to industry-specific security standards and regulations, such as those specified in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for the healthcare industry.

I urge hiring managers to closely examine the overall 2016 Hot Jobs report, especially the industry-specific overviews. By understanding which jobs might be particularly challenging to fill, managers can plan accordingly and take the necessary steps to ensure their companies are best positioned to attract top talent – especially in undersupplied, highly-competitive fields.

1 IDC press release, September 15, 2014.

2 Right Scale, “2016 State of the Cloud Report.”

3 Markets and Markets, “ Cloud Storage Market by Solutions- Global Forecast and Analysis to 2020 ,” August 2015.

4 Randstad Technologies and IDG Research Services, online survey , 2014.

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Robert M. Dickey is Group President, Technology and Engineering, for Randstad US, one of the largest staffing organizations in the country. In that role, he oversees Randstad Technologies, and Randstad Engineering, and also manages the national and regional sales efforts in Randstad’s 65+ United States business units.