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Weathering the storm: Business CIOs are safest

Ross O. Storey | Feb. 11, 2009
What will be the information technology employment landscape for 2009? What are the best strategies for survival? A range of pundits share their views about IT recruitment, salary and employment prospects for the year ahead.

Asia is viewed as an incubator for some of the worlds leading executive IT talent, and is a happy hunting ground for many global organisations. While the levels of demand seen in 2008 are unlikely to continue, 2009 will continue to provide good opportunities for leading executive talent.

Cheering news

Our sister magazine CIO Asias recent annual State of the Asian CIO research, which attracted responses from some 250 executive leaders across the region, also found some relatively cheering news. Nearly 43 per cent of respondents indicated they planned to increase their IT headcount in 2009. More than a quarter (28 per cent) expected their tech staff numbers to remain unchanged through 2009.

Less that 10 per cent of the movers and shakers who responded to our survey indicated they expected to have to cut IT staff numbers.

However, there is so much global uncertainty, says Egon Zehnders head of technology and communications practice, Asia Pacific, Nick Chia, that it is very hard to predict Asia Pacific IT recruitment, employment and salary trends. Nevertheless, he says the demand for business-oriented CIOs and IT leaders remains strong and we expect that trend to continue. Chias view is that IT decision-makers must be able to communicate a compelling business case that non-IT leaders can understand and support.

You cannot rely on efficiency and cost reduction as being the sole benefit IT provides.  IT must be an enabler and driver of business strategy, growth and profitability, he says.

Downward pressure

There will definitely be continued downward pressure on salaries, Chia says, as companies try to become more efficient.

This will impact some in-house IT jobs but could benefit those IT professionals who provide services which reduce upfront or fixed investments such as software-as-a-service, business process outsourcing and shared service centres.     

Chia says large corporations were now looking at ways to streamline their operations, and so much of that involves IT, either relating to automation or in finding different ways of serving customers.

For instance, some of our clients are using Web 2.0 tools to enable end-users to help themselves, thus reducing the cost of supporting them, he says. There is also always the option of cutting IT employment in-house and getting someone else to run some or all of your IT operations for you. We are hearing a lot of talk about additional outsourcing and creation of shared services structures across large divisions or lines of business, with many companies choosing to headquarter those functions in Asia.

Shift to Asia

In recent months, there has been a surprisingly sharp spike of IT skills flowing into Asia due to the financial crisis in the US and Europe, according to observers who should know.

 

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