Digital app developer skills take centre stage in corporate IT

IT technical skills

Digital app developer skills take centre stage in corporate IT

Brian McKenna

Digital information design skills, including building business apps, have assumed new importance in corporate IT over the past year.

Sam Gordon, director of the technology and digital search practice at recruitment consultancy LaFosse Associates, told a meeting of the Computer Weekly 500 Club that 2012 was a year of “mainstream adoption of digital in corporates”. 

Consequently, he said, organisations are scrabbling for software engineering talent as they build information apps for their business and fill out digital channels to customers. 

He cited one CIO who had said that he never want to be more than two layers removed from his software engineers. “CIOs need to buy into technology again, and IT needs to be, as in the US, a cool career,” said Gordon.

Speaking at the same event, Mark White, chief technology officer of Deloitte Consulting's technology practice, said his own firm had bought in the creative digital design capabilities embodied in Deloitte Digital through acquisition. He related how the Deloitte developers in Seattle dress up as suited and booted business types for Halloween. They have, he said, a “studio” culture.

CIOs need to buy into technology again, and IT needs to be a cool career

Sam Gordon, LaFosse Associates

In a briefing to Computer Weekly about the year gone by and the year ahead for the data market, Steve Shelton, head of data services at consultant Detica, part of BAE Systems, confirmed the rarity of digital development skills.

He said that recruiting and developing entry-level graduates who can become Hadoop programmers is fairly straightforward – a matter of 12 weeks' training. But it is harder, he said, to “come by skills on the architecture side – say, how a NoSQL platform, like Hadoop, interfaces with the rest of your data set-up”.

But even rarer, he said, are the people who can take what comes out of big data and explain it to a business audience and creative designers. 

"Creative design is an under-appreciated skill set. A lot of this comes down to presenting data in a meaningful way. The ability to visually present information is more and more important, as well as knowing the right data to pick," said Shelton.

“We’ve got a digital media practice at Detica and we have been cross-fertilising the data team with the digital media team. That has really made a difference, particularly when what is coming out of it is for a senior business audience.”

Image: Hemera/Thinkstock

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