Foote explains the hybrid role: "The broader trend continues to be employers hiring hybrid IT-business professionals with combinations of both business and technology knowledge, experience, and skill sets, unlike those found in traditional IT organizations. ... Clearly there is demand for a mix of specific technical skills along with business and communications skills."
"Pure-play [tech] jobs are on the decline," concurs Bill Reynolds, a partner at Foote. Where once the majority of tech jobs were in technology companies, now many organizations whose business is not directly related to tech have many openings that require different skills, he says.
The trend towards broader skill sets is not new. Historically, an IT pro might have been successful if he or she was certified in a specific application from a specific vendor, such as Microsoft, Cisco, or Novell. But as technology became less proprietary, people needed to certify in areas that encompassed more than one vendor, such as security. Now comes the next leap, which Foote says is learning about how technology is deployed in areas like finance, marketing, and accounting. IT employees are now embedded in departments and work groups, and when they are, they need to be able to speak about technical subjects to nontechnical people, he says.
The IT skills that are losing value -- and the ones gaining value
That increased demand for hybrid roles doesn't mean that specific technical skills aren't also valued. It's just that the ones that businesses value -- and are willing to pay more for -- are changing.
The IT labor market is very complex, and generalizing from a set of numbers can be misleading. But Foote's analysis does indicate that some once-popular skill sets are losing some of their value to employers. What some of these skills have in common is that they are specialties that are now being thought of as legacies, while other areas have shifted into a maintenance mode as new technologies demand business attention and promise new business advantage. That's not to say that all certs involving old-school technologies are hopelessly out of fashion. Some are still in high demand and pay accordingly.
In the last quarter of 2011, certified skills that lost 15 percent or more in market value included Oracle/Siebel 7.7 certified consultant, Microsoft certified database administrator, and IBM certified specialist in storage networking solutions. There was a similar decline in narrow noncertified skills sets, including SAP Business One, SAP Web application server, and ColdFusion/ColdFusion MX, according to Foote's survey.