If you had to pick two words to describe how the market for management- and executive- level IT jobs is shaping up for 2012, you might channel Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David and say "pretty good. Pri-tay, pri-tay, pri-tay, pri-tay good."
In other words, the job market for CIOs, managers, directors and VPs in charge of various IT functions is neither going to be brimming with or bereft of opportunity. The consensus among executive recruiters who hire IT executives and their direct reports is that the job market for these folks in 2012 is going to be marginally better than 2011.
Several factors are driving the management- and executive-level hiring that will take place in 2012. One is the need for people to manage the capital investments IT departments plan to make next year. According to a survey conducted on behalf of technology provider CDW, 76 percent of 1,045 IT decision-makers polled plan to replace or install new hardware for some portion of their enterprises. Their top spending priorities are PCs (60 percent), security (55 percent), cloud computing (50 percent), virtualization (41 percent) and mobility (39 percent).
The second factor is that certain technology trends are currently overwhelming IT departments. For example, cloud computing, virtualization, big data and mobility are creating a need for additional IT managers and directors as well as completely new IT management roles inside companies, says Martha Heller, president of Heller Search Associates.
Demographic changes are a third catalyst for hiring. Heller says that the Baby Boomers who've long held IT infrastructure positions (as data center managers, technical services managers and help desk supervisors, for example) are beginning to retire, and IT leaders are hard-pressed to find enough Gen Xers with the right mix of skills to replace them.
Hottest Spots for IT Management Jobs in 2012
Venture-funded Internet companies, private-equity firms and the companies owned by them will be among the best places to find management- and executive-level jobs in IT, according to recruiters who serve those organizations. "Compared to enterprise technology and enterprise software companies, the opportunities at Internet-related companies continue to be bountiful," says Keith Giarman, global leader of DHR International's venture capital and private-equity practice. "There's tons of capital chasing those opportunities."
Other good places to look for IT management jobs is at software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies, business process outsourcing firms, and the SaaS-related business units of enterprise software vendors, says Marc Lewis, CEO of Leadership Capital Group. "Demand for CIOs, CTOs, VPs and directors of IT at SaaS companies or business process outsourcing companies will be robust," he says, as enterprises outsource noncore IT functions.
Meanwhile, Lewis anticipates demand for CIOs, CTOs, VPs and directors of IT inside most major companies in 2012 will be flat to 2011.
Despite this "meh" hiring outlook, some IT management positions will be in greater demand than others. Here are 10 of the hottest IT leadership jobs.
10 Hot IT Leadership Jobs
1. Head of Technology Infrastructure. Whether this is a manager, director or VP-level role depends on the size of the company that is seeking it. The bottom line: IT organizations are hiring heads of IT infrastructure because many of the Baby Boomers who've held those roles are retiring and because so many of today's technology trends (cloud, virtualization, consumerization of IT and mobility) are infrastructure and hardware-related, says Heller. Adds Greg Ambrose, managing director of Catalyst Search Group: Companies are seeking IT leaders who have experience moving elements of the IT infrastructure to the cloud.
2. Director of Outsourced Services or Vendor Management. As companies "outsource" more functions to traditional IT services providers, SaaS companies and cloud services providers, they're increasingly looking for an individual who can manage all of these relationships: a director of outsourced services. Some companies will seek a director of vendor management who oversees all vendor partnerships, not just with IT services providers. IT vendor managers who have experience with cloud computing will again be in demand as cloud computing presents new licensing agreements, contracts, terms, security and service-level agreements that are different from traditional IT outsourcing, says Heller.
3. Manager/Head of Unified Communications. Heller says CIOs are starting to look for IT managers who can set a strategy for unified communications and break down the barriers between different devices, email servers, networks and telephony tools inside their organizations.
4. Manager of Master Data Management/Director of Data Architecture. These are two different roles, but their ultimate goals are the same: to help companies get a handle on big data by establishing and implementing data integration and management strategies. The director of data architecture may also be charged with creating the technical architecture that will support the company's data management strategies.
5. Managers/Directors in Charge of Mobility. With the proliferation of mobile devices inside enterprises and among consumers, companies are looking for IT managers who can address the challenges and business opportunities that mobile computing presents.
On the infrastructure side, they need IT managers and directors who can set usage policies for the company and maintain and secure the infrastructure needed to support those devices, along with the devices themselves. On the applications side, employers need people to determine which enterprise and/or customer-facing applications should be adapted or developed specifically for mobile devices.
6. Business Relationship Managers. For several years, CIOs have sought business relationship managers who report into the IT organization, but who work for specific business units or functions inside the company to ensure they have the IT resources they need, says Heller.
"What's different today is the rate at which companies need these people," she adds. "Because of cloud and consumerization, in some companies the business can work directly with the service provider and get an app for their business without even talking to the CIO. CIOs need business relationship managers to maintain some degree of control and understanding of everything that's happening across the business."
Another difference between today's business relationship managers vs. yesteryears: Some CIOs are hiring them directly from the lines of business, rather than appointing someone from IT to serve as, say, the business relationship manager for the finance department, says Heller.
7. CTO/SVP of Engineering. DHR International's Giarman says CTOs and senior VPs in charge of engineering are in great demand inside technology companies. They're seeking visionary leaders who can run technical operations, ensure products will scale to meet user demand, get products to market on time, manage geographically dispersed development teams, and motivate developers. Because this is no small task, Giarman says compensation packages for these executives can run into seven figures.
8. CIO. Chuck Pappalardo, managing director of Trilogy Search Non+Profit, expects CIO searches to continue to be a significant source of his firm's business in 2012. "There will be plenty of opportunity for people to move into traditional CIO roles," he says.
9. CISO/IT Security Consultant. The frequency and rising costs of data breaches are forcing companies to take IT security much more seriously. Interest in cloud computing is also renewing interest in information security. Those two trends are driving demand for chief information security officers and IT security consultants, according to Lewis at the Leadership Capital Group.
10. IT Consulting Firm Partners. Good news for IT consultants who can sell and deliver: They're in great demand, according to the Leadership Capital Group. The bad news: They may have to move to the Arabian Peninsula. Leadership Capital Group notes that the job market for IT consultants with 'Big Five' firms is hottest in emerging markets such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and South Africa.
Meridith Levinson covers Careers, Project Management and Outsourcing for CIO.com. Follow Meridith on Twitter @meridith. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook. Email Meridith at email@example.com.