A resolve to embrace business

Business team workIncreasing the business skills of IT people will be one of the main themes of IT training in 2008, claims Jeff Barnes, director of technical education at QA-IQ.

It's not just technical skills that are going to be important for IT people in 2008, there will also be increasing pressure to make sure that they have the business skills to support their technical knowledge.

IT will be leading the direction of the business by understanding and changing the way people work. IT people will need to be able to understand current policies and processes to improve them. Becoming a leader and owning the IT infrastructure in the business will mean working across all departments, leading the direction of the business by changing the way people work.

Senior stakeholders from IT are involved in a wide range of projects in a modern business - gone is the day when an IT person is stuck in the basement rebooting servers and writing code. In 2008 a lot of IT people will need to understand business strategy - they need to take their technical skills and develop a business approach to using those technical skills.

One of the biggest changes that we’ll see in the IT training market is increased crossover from what we'd traditionally think of a technical subject to skills for end users. The rise of collaboration with the introduction of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server and Office 2007 last year means that many people now own their own data rather than it being stored on a central server. As they'll be managing their own and their team's workspaces, more skills, such as effective document management, will be needed to support this change of practice.

Users will need to communicate clearly with their IT departments about how they use data and will need to understand how to use data properly and how to create proper collaborative working spaces. There are team work skills linked to this as well, as people will need to work closely together and develop new habits. Of course, new ways of networking, more flexible working practices, and new synchronisation techniques will be supporting this change. 

On the technical front, there are a number of key technologies for 2008 and it looks like it's going to be another big year for Microsoft. The launch of Visual Studio 2008 will be big, and we’re already seeing strong demand for .NET 3.x  courses.

One of the biggest areas for 2008 will be virtualisation: application virtualisation, desktop virtualisation and operating system virtualisation. Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V is going to be competing with established leader VMware for the critical corporate virtualisation market and skills for both products are going to be in high demand.

Of course, people are still looking for high-end technical skills for Microsoft SharePoint, such as installation and deployment for SharePoint Services, and the launch of Windows Server 2008 will also be important.

2008 is the year that IT professionals need to develop more rounded skills. They’ll be working more widely across the business, end users will be working more closely with technology, and the key products will be all about collaboration and simplification of systems. With a strong mix of technical experience and broader management skills 2008 is the year that IT professionals can lead the business.

January 2008