16 hot roles for IT pros

Forrester research analysts identify 16 IT roles CIOs will need to fill in the near future.

IT professionals who want to become irreplaceable to their organizations should cultivate existing skills and pick up a few new ones, according to Forrester Research, which recently identified 16 IT roles that CIOs will need to fill in the near term.

The trend toward IT workers taking on multiple responsibilities and filling hybrid positions is in full swing this year. Forrester Research polled its analysts to narrow down the numerous demands on IT departments to 16 roles that are critical to an organization's success in the coming months. The demand won't necessarily send CIOs to the job boards looking for new candidates; instead, IT managers will assess their in-house talent to match existing skills with emerging roles.

"Near-term demand for hot roles in IT will be driven by the need for local and cross-discipline knowledge, changes in technology, greater emphasis on managing risk and the enterprise, and a limited supply of key roles," Forrester analysts Marc Cecere and Laurie Orlov write in the August research report "What are the hot roles in IT?"

Level 1 or the hottest IT roles are information/data architect and information security expert. The former serves the organization by designing data warehouses, data marts, operational data stores and data-interface standards. This role also is responsible for defining data-governance processes and policies, and developing the organization's strategies for data management. "Nearly all organizations now see the need to integrate information across the entire organization," the report reads.

The information security expert takes on risk management and compliance policies. Senior experts would oversee a team of security architects, audit and compliance specialists, policy experts and more. This group also would be tied to physical security and operational risk management, Forrester says.

"Security roles have increased in importance as security expands to include risk management, and requires an approach that considers applications, infrastructure, facilities and business factors," the analysts say.

In the extremely hot, Level 2 category, Forrester includes data- or content-oriented business analyst, business architect, enterprise architect, and vendor-management expert. For this second tier of roles, Forrester has found that the complexity of the information with which IT professionals in these roles deal drives the demand.

"These roles deal with processes, technology and vendors at the enterprise level, and individuals with this experience are rare," the report reads.

Level 3, or very hot roles consist of traditional IT roles that have broadened to an enterprise level. For instance, enterprise-application strategists are responsible for building internal application road-maps that will support current and future business processes or accommodate mergers and acquisitions. The role of IT planner involves IT strategy and budget decisions at the enterprise level, and network architect broadens in Forrester's opinion from local planning to enterprise network strategy.

"They primarily focus on new projects and future investments in network technology," according to Forrester. "Network architects also participate in annual budget reviews and oversee the testing of network equipment prior to moving it into production."

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