Job SkillsMicrosoft's TechEd wrapped up this week, leaving attendees with a better career compass to guide them. Of particular interest was the "Skills For Emerging Technology" seminar, which dished out good information for developers, both mobile and Web. Jeffrey Snover, a Microsoft Distinguished Engineer, led off the talk with his thoughts on career choices. You may know him as the guy who put Microsoft Powershell on the map in 2006. He was joined by Russ Hearl of Elance, Greg Shields of Concentrated Technologies, Pete Brown, a Microsoft evangelist, and Michele Leroux Bustamante of iDesign.

Big Picture

Snover's main takeaway: To find your next big thing, you must know yourself. That means,  What gets you going and what are you passionate about? He says everyone has the choice to invest in something cool, something cool and relevant, something relevant and cool, or just relevant. He pointed out that while working on cool projects is fun, projects relevant to your company's business success are sustainable and helps you feed the family. Of course, a balance of cool and being highly relevant, certainly helps with the passion.

Emerging Trends and You

  • Rapid Change: Panelists agree rapid changes in technologies and the business climate mandates frequent job changes. Old jobs will go away and be replaced by new jobs. For example, some people fear the cloud will displace them. But IT professionals should consider the cloud simply a different way to deliver services and eliminate tasks they don't want to do, such as maintaining a bunch of servers.
  • Mobility: There'll be a big market for people who know a variety of platforms and can guide their companies to deliver their services seamlessly to each one. Bustamante said accomplishing that is very complex, because of the volume of code that has to be written. So, skilled developers will be in demand. And as companies focus on delivering services via mobile and the Web, the value of skills tied to the desktop are rapidly decreasing.
  • Reduce Friction to Users: Technologies that provide ease of use to time-constrained users will be in increased demand. Often technologies developed for the enterprise find their way to consumers. For example, executives don't have time to remember a lot of passwords for all of their various access points. They want a seamless and effective solution. As a result, things like single sign on work great for executives and all users.
  • Shift in labor: An estimated 24 percent of the workforce are considered independent consultants, said Hearl. He expects that figure to grow to 50 percent by the end of the decade. Part of this growth may come from a rise in internal consultants, those who migrate from being just a staffer to acting as an in-house expert, adding value as a knowledge transfer agent and coach for staffers.

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