The Most Important Tech Skills of 2017According to a survey of 500 IT professionals, 69 percent of tech pros search for new jobs because they want to advance their tech skills. This is an enlightening statistic, implying that organizations who are recruiting top tech talent should focus on selling the opportunity to learn new languages or tools, work with cutting edge technologies or collaborate on unique technical projects.

Though it’s unrealistic (and unnecessary) to implement every new technology, tool or language that comes along, companies can certainly leverage their current technical environment and new and ongoing initiatives to attract candidates who want to broaden their experience. With that in mind, what are the most important tech skills of 2017?

There’s no shortage of resources that rank the hottest, fastest growing, most in-demand IT skills every year. Some are aggregated from numbers of job postings; some are based on large surveys; some are a result of scraping the web for every mention of each technology. Whichever way you approach it, you’ll find there is almost always overlap, and, like a Venn diagram, this is where you can begin to discern which technologies are the most important.

Programming

A ComputerWorld Survey of IT managers revealed that programming and application development is one of the largest areas of focus in regards to hiring in 2017. Even with the increasing popularity of Software as a Service (SaaS), companies are still developing customized or proprietary software and applications. High demand for programmers and developers has continued to push salaries for these professionals to new heights.

Interestingly, programming is an area of lower focus for IT professionals themselves; they already have strong skills in many programming languages and there are more urgent areas of Information Technology that they are drawn to for skills development and improvement. That said, programming languages are still some of the hottest skills in demand, a theme we’ve explored before when we compared the TIOBE Index to the IEEE Spectrum (you can find that article on the Hottest Programming Languages of 2017 here). The top-rated programming languages on TIOBE are currently:

  1. Java
  2. C
  3. C++
  4. C#
  5. Python
  6. Visual Basic .NET
  7. PHP
  8. JavaScript
  9. Delphi/Object Pascal
  10. Swift

Big Data

The aforementioned ComputerWorld survey revealed that data analytics (including big data, data mining, and business intelligence) has the 2nd largest share of companies’ technology budgets in 2017. Big data and analytics also ranked number one for technologies currently in beta-testing or pilot programs. Furthermore, a study commissioned by Bentley University found that the demand for big data skills increased a massive 3,977 percent from 2011 to 2015. These statistics make sense when you consider the mountains of data – both structured and unstructured – that organizations are inundated with daily.

Unfortunately, the demand for big data professionals is met by insufficient supply. The skillsets required for this position are complex, necessitating a balance of soft skills and technical know-how. In addition to analytical, communication, and problem-solving skills, a big data professional should have significant exposure to large databases (such as Oracle and TeraData) and experience with key programming languages (such as Python, R, Scala and Java). Other key big data skills include:

  • Hadoop
  • Spark
  • Cassandra
  • MapReduce
  • Hive
  • Pig
  • Kafka
  • Storm

Cybersecurity

If big data took second place in the ComputerWorld survey of biggest budget spends, what came first? The unsurprising answer is security technologies. With each new innovation in technology comes another new vulnerability. Thanks to cloud technology, the Internet of Things, BYOD, big data, and more, the apparent ease with which companies are hacked is astounding. And it’s not just big-name brands; any company with stores of personal information or accessible financial assets is at risk of cyber threats.

Thus, the demand for security professionals continues to skyrocket. Technology professionals also recognize the need for this skillset: 95 percent believe IT security skills are the most important skills in 2017, and 62 percent plan to improve those skills this year.

Like big data, required skills in cybersecurity are a delicate balance between soft skills and technical knowledge. Whether they are an architect, engineer, analyst, or manager, a security professional should most likely have proficiency in several programming languages (such as Java, C, C++, PHP, Python, etc.), as well as a general understanding of system, network and operating system architecture and administration. Beyond that, in-demand skills vary depending on the specific project, but may include:

  • Vulnerability and threat assessment
  • Risk management
  • Security monitoring
  • Data classification
  • Incident management
  • Intrusion detection

The Most Important Tech Skills of 2017

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it touches the surface of technical skills that are of high importance in today’s technology landscape. Your specific projects and initiatives will determine which skills you need most, but it’s important to stay aware of how your technical environment stacks up against the competition. The best tech talent wants to build their skillsets and broaden their experience. Can you deliver that opportunity?

For more key market data and in-depth compensation analysis, find your complimentary 2017 IT Hiring and Compensation Guide here.

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Larry Zaroff is the Managing Director of MDI’S Charlotte office. If you are interested in learning more about how to attract the best IT talent in Charlotte, contact us directly at connect@mdigroup.com or call us 888-416-7949. MDI Group also has offices and specializes in recruiting IT talent in Atlanta, Dallas, Fort Worth, Greenville and Phoenix.