Hello to all,
I hope some of you had the chance to travel to Maine this year. I also hope you were able to take advantage of the few opportunities for nice weather. If it wasn’t wet, it was too dang hot and muggy. I’m ready for those 20 below days of winter – though I would like to enjoy a long, glorious fall before then. Speaking of hot……
My last two columns have focused on our observations of the jobs market and some of the specific actions both employers and individuals could take to better position themselves. I’m happy to say that the IT jobs market continues to grow – and it is still very much characterized as a candidate driven market.
In this column, I will highlight the hottest jobs on the IT market and the skill sets in highest demand by employers.
I would have to go back to the mid-to-late 90’s, and the SAP phenomenon, for anything even close to today’s demand for IT/EAI Architects. Back then, companies were looking for battalions of SAP resources – which are what it took – to put SAP in a production mode. In contrast, companies today are looking for 1 or 2 high level architects, and having just as much trouble, if not more, finding these types of individuals. Why? Because the candidate pool is insufficient to meet the demand.
You know what I want to be when I grow up? You guessed it. Anyone with Architect in their title or job responsibilities can pretty much write their own ticket. Nationally, architect jobs paying anywhere from $100-$160K, and offering relo, go unfilled for months or even years. Some of this is due to specific, rare skill sets – some of it to unrealistic expectations on the part of the employer. At other times, it is simply due to the laws of supply and demand.
So what exactly is an Architect, what do they do, and how can you become one? Good questions – I’m glad you asked!
I am not going to bore you with definitions gleaned from web sites. I’ll tell you what I think.
IT architects work at the highest levels of the IT infrastructure – whether that infrastructure is a future schematic or a current environment. You should know that there are different types of architects. There are plain Architects, there are Information Architects, there are Data Architects, etc., etc. Naturally, the job responsibilities will differ and be more narrowly focused depending on the type of architect an employer is seeking. Suffice to say, what they all have in common is the need for an individual to look across a corporation rather than down in silo-type fashion. After all, most architect jobs are related to Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) which implies the ability to tie disparate applications together – from both inside and outside the enterprise.
If you have ever seen a diagram of an EAI architecture in a large company, it can be somewhat humbling. There is layer after layer of products and software. EAI requires a small army to implement and the IT staffing model changes significantly. I wonder how many EAI ROIs take into account the hiring of $150K resources?
EAI has only been around in its current form for about 5 years, so the experienced labor pool is small. When you factor in a specific product/skill requirement like Tibco, the pool becomes even smaller.
I view architects as modelers. Whether it’s data, information or the technical environment, architects need to optimize a company’s information systems and requirements, using a multitude of solutions. As an architect, you lay the foundation upon which everything else is built.
How do you become an architect? Gradually. This isn’t something you leap into overnight. One way to gain experience is to get involved with the implementation of an EAI product like BizTalk, Tibco, webMethods, etc. Beyond that, you need to know a whole lot about a whole lot of other products, data bases, message buses, h/w, s/w etc. Becoming a road warrior for some period of time for a leading EAI vendor or integrator is a sure avenue toward gaining experience and knowledge. Some vendors offer architect certifications.
You have plenty of time to learn. This stuff ain’t goin’ away.
Last but not least, the following is just a partial list of some of the skills now in demand and which we see more and more in job descriptions related to IT, especially EDI and EAI.
• XML, AS2, Scripting almost always present in EDI job descriptions now
• Java becoming more common
• Lots of .NET skills needed
• Newer platforms/technologies require:
SOA (Services Oriented Architecture)
Object Orientation (OO)
UML (Unified Modeling Language)
SQL, Oracle, etc.
BPM (Business Process Modeling)
I’m not sure what my next column will be about. Maybe you can send me some suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sheep shearing is not an acceptable topic for this forum.
Enjoy the autumn, the cool weather and the holiday food to follow. And remember, there are less than 4 months left for Christmas shopping!
Wayne from Maine
Wayne Marshall is the President of the New England eCommerce Group (NEECOM) and also the Vice President of Professional Services for EDI Specialists, Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.