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Network World - John Halamka, CIO of Harvard Medical School and CareGroup Healthcare System in Boston, has an aggressive project on his plate this year: He's wireless-enabling all 2 million square feet of his enterprise campuses. To do it, he's increasing his IT staff of 200 by five positions, which require network, wireless or security expertise.
The wireless network will play a variety of roles, from carrying sensitive patient data to giving patients and their families a link to the Internet to moving VoIP packets to supporting RFID .
"If you're going to run all four of these modalities over a wireless network, each of which has a different security profile, you're going to need some people to manage the rollout of that network, the day to day operations, the security configurations," Halamka says.
It's people Halamka currently doesn't have in-house. Lucky for him, his budget is increasing 2% this year, which gives him the $500,000 or so he needs to fill the new positions.
Halamka is not alone. After several years of budget cutbacks, the technology industry once again is expecting budget growth in 2005. Analyst firms predict tech spending will rise in the mid-single digits. IDC pegs growth at about 6%, or $60 billion.
Along with that growth comes hiring. While IT managers remain cautious when it comes to full-time staffing, analysts say an uptick in budgets, coupled with a slow return to project rollouts - such as Halamka's wireless effort - and the enforcement of government regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Sarbanes-Oxley will result in a slight jump in the number of IT positions created this year.
"We're continuing to see improvement in the market," says Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology (RHT). "It's not yet what it was in the dot-com boom, but it's certainly marked improvement."
Indeed, RHT's survey of more than 1,400 CIOs last year found that 11% of the executives polled planned to add IT staff early in 2005, compared with 9% who planned additions in 2004. While 2% of the CIOs anticipate cutbacks this year, that's fewer than the 6% who planned cuts a year earlier. Eighty-six percent of the respondents expected to neither add nor cut positions in 2005, and 1% said they didn't know yet what their hiring plans would be for this year.
Business expansion is the main driver of IT hiring, and network expertise is the most in-demand specialty, according to RHT. At the same time, Windows and Cisco network administration continue to be hot skills, while expertise in security, storage , VoIP and Web services are also at the top of IT hiring managers' lists.
With the rush of mergers and acquisitions already starting, analysts say expertise in integration will be important. Business intelligence, messaging, Linux and open source, wireless and CRM skills also will be in high demand.
David Foote, president and chief research officer for Foote Partners, says one interesting trend he's seeing is an upturn in pay for network, collaboration and application development skills. Pay for those areas was declining as much as 12% last year.