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10 hottest tech skills for 2016

Mary K. Pratt | Dec. 8, 2015
Gunning for a banner year in IT? Make sure you have these skills in your toolbox.

3. Project management

* 39% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year's ranking: No. 2

With almost half (46%) of Forecast survey respondents expecting their technology spending to increase in 2016, it's no surprise that project management remains a top five skill: More spending means more projects -- and that means more people will be needed to manage those projects.

Ken Grady, CIO at IDEXX Laboratories, a pet healthcare diagnostics company headquartered in Westbrook, Maine, has about a dozen openings within his 250-member IT department, and he plans to add new positions in the upcoming year. His hiring plans include bringing on two or three project managers to join the roughly 15 project managers already working in his newly created project management office.

Grady says he wants people who can help his teams work within an agile and DevOps environment, as well as professionals who can manage diverse teams and negotiate priorities, scope, deliverables and expectations with various stakeholders.

"It's not a new skill, but the difference now is the way we iterate. The execution is much faster," Grady explains. "So it takes a bit more finesse in expectation management and bringing people together. I'm looking for people who have the comfort with that pace and that approach. It's as much fit as it is a particular skill set."

4. Big data

* 36% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year's ranking: No. 10

The surge in interest in using data to drive business has pushed demand for big data skills from No. 10 in last year's Forecast report to No. 4 today.

Moreover, in the Forecast 2016 survey, big data/analytics was No. 1 on the list of technologies that survey respondents said they were currently beta-testing or using in pilot projects, with 23% saying they were engaged in such initiatives.

When it comes to big data initiatives, "companies are typically looking for someone who can help them manage data and package that data," says Reed, of Robert Half Technology. "[They want] people who can interpret and then help bring that data to life visually — building dashboards and things of that nature, so the executive suite can push through techspeak and understand what the data is telling them."

5. Business intelligence/analytics

* 34% of respondents with hiring plans said they will be seeking people with this skill in the next 12 months.

* Last year's ranking: No. 7

Holding steady in the top 10 skills list is another data-related area of specialization: BI and analytics.

 

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