Anyone who has worked in IT for any length of time will recognise the caricature of the embittered old programmer forever grumbling about the passing of the days when everyone knew “real” languages like Assembler and Cobol.
In a sector that changes as rapidly as IT, where the environment is characterised by outsourcing and cost cutting, hanging onto the past is not an option: IT professionals need to adapt to survive.
But how should they adapt, and with which areas of technology should they be familiarising themselves?
In order to obtain a considered view from the server room, we surveyed more than 400 Computing readers to discover both the skills they possess now, and those that they feel will be most valuable in the future.
The research was split into four core themes: programming, analytics, datacentre and enterprise applications.
First we looked at current programming skills. SQL and HTML were the technologies most widely practised, not surprising given the pivotal importance of database-powered enterprise applications with web-based UIs. A little further down come the object-oriented stalwarts Java and C/C++ as well as Microsoft's .Net framework – C# skills came in just outside the top 10 shown in figure 1.
Asked separately which skills they expected to increase in importance, a clear picture emerged. Mobile technologies are seen very much as the way things are going, with Android, HTML5 and iOS all making strong showings, along with Java – a language designed to be architecture-neutral and a key pillar of Android and many mobile applications. The presence of CSS, XML and Ajax in the top 10 shows the continued importance of web development techniques as companies seek to improve the online experience of users and customers by implementing Web 2.0 technologies on their sites (figure 2).