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The changing face of Digital & IT

01 Jan 10:00 by Joel Winten

  • The role of the CIO is becoming more strategic, as the CIO becomes the business transformation lead

  • As businesses move from onsite support to the Cloud and the Internet of Things, there is a move to more flexible skills sets in IT professionals

  • The top 3 hot technical skills for 2017: Python, Java and Cloud services

Most, if not all, businesses are undergoing digital transformation projects with IT departments and IT leaders integral to the successful delivery of these projects.

Digital is now the heart of every business, regardless of sector. Customer behaviour, in both B2C and B2B, is changing and the new digital age is driving that change and a requirement for business transformation, at a pace never seen before.

The word digital used to be synonymous with IT, server rooms and wires, but today, a company’s digital strategy drives the roadmap and goals of the whole company, across all departments, including: marketing, operations, sales and HR.

The changing role of IT leaders

In a recent study published on, The State of the CIO, results highlighted how integral IT leaders are defining and executing strategic business objectives. In 2017, 46% of the nearly 650 CIOs surveyed said they reported directly to the CEO, up from 40% in 2012. As technology continues to influence every part of the organisation, and CIOs are called upon to drive business transformation, it makes sense that CEOs wants a direct reporting line.

The PWC survey, 2017 Digital IQ, outlines that CEOs who don’t realise the shifting sands and aren’t prioritizing digital are either changing their tune, or being phased out: just 33% of executives in the 2007 survey said their CEO was a champion for digital; that number has doubled to more than 68% in 2017. So, the CEO has to become effective at prioritising digital and the role of the CIO in setting the strategic direction of the business.

CIOs have also been working on their soft skills, understanding that collaborative working is the future of the digital organisation. Making connections with sales, marketing and other departments: acquiring a better-rounded knowledge of the organisation, and building relationships to decide technology decisions together, not in IT or discipline isolation.

Changing IT team structures

As the more senior roles in IT become more strategic and the role of the CIO becomes more important to the future success of business operations, there are also changes and structures in the make-up of IT teams.

As in most disciplines, from HR to marketing, technology is driving change in how jobs are done, and what jobs exist in the discipline, IT is no different. Jobs are changing all the time, meaning IT professionals have to keep up to date with new technology and new ways of looking at things. The skills they learned in college and built over time may still be relevant, but they'll need to be refreshed and extended, at every opportunity.

Today, automation, artificial intelligence and software as a service are all causing some jobs to disappear and others to change, as companies look at more flexible IT models. Thanks to the massive migration to the cloud, jobs that involve maintaining IT infrastructure, like network engineer or system administrator, are quickly disappearing.  

Cross-over jobs – IT professional into other departments

Some IT jobs aren’t disappearing so much as shrinking. Roles once full-time have become part of a portfolio of skills in someone else’s day job, sometimes sat in other departments, due to the automation of the tasks involved.

An example would be big data. Three or four years ago businesses employed project teams of data engineers to build systems and process to capture, store and analyse big data. Now companies have developed a strategy and have technology and data dashboards in place, so that functional users can deal with data, not so much big data, as everyday data.

In the cross-over jobs in marketing / technology there may once have been full-time jobs for a webmaster, SEO specialist or CRM manager. Now, again because of technology and automation, they’re all part of a marketing professional’s day-to-day responsibilities.

CRM professionals might also now be employed and sit within sales or marketing teams managing CRM implementations. Or it may be a dual role within the marketing team alongside email and marketing automation.

Move to the cloud

The move to Cloud-based systems continues as companies look to outsource and offsite their infrastructure.

The role of admins has moved on from onsite wires, routers and hardware to managing relationships with off-site Cloud providers. This relationship is delivered through service level agreements (SLAs) and remote relationships, meaning that system admins must talk the language of suppliers. They must be able to read and understand a contract, understand its ins and outs, and be able to turn technical language into a simple language that their internal customers will understand.

Network administrators who want to remain viable need to get up to speed on Cloud architecture.

Today’s most sought-after IT skills sets

Artificial intelligence software, RAI, aggregated data from over 10,000 public social profiles to determine which technology skills were most likely to result in a person's being hired or promoted. Based on this data, HiringSolved reveals which technology skills are most in-demand for the 2017 job market, and these were:

1. Python

2. Java

3. Cloud services

4. Linux

5. JavaScript

6. SQL

7. Matlab


9. Perl

10. Go

Right now, the hottest jobs are developers, whether they’re front-end, back-end, mobile, or full stack. Java and Python are the most sought-after skill sets.   

There is a slow, gradual but real shift going on from object-oriented programming such as Java and .NET to functional programming languages such as Scala and Clojure. Scala and Clojure will not feature in any top 10 just yet, they have only really been invented and in commercial use for the past 5 years or so, but they are up-and-coming and there will be a growing demand for developers with those skills in the very near future.

The impact on talent strategies

At MacGregor Black, we're seeing rapid change in the type of request we receive from our clients. Being the consumer sector specialists means that the majority of our clients operate in fast moving environments that are experiencing rapid change.

We help them understand what a transformation project might look like and the types of people with the right skills that they need in their organisations, both for today and tomorrow.

For our candidates, we will help them understand what skills and experience are required both now and for the future roles and outline that they must embrace new technologies through continuous learning. What’s hot today, will not be hot tomorrow, so engineers and programmers need continually to learn new languages or they’ll find themselves maintaining systems instead of being involved in new and exciting projects.

Our Digital & IT recruitment team are passionate about the industry and are continually speaking to people (clients and candidates) about what’s going on in the market today, and what might happen tomorrow. Our Network is your Network.

Sources 10 most in-demand tech skills, May 16th, 2017 / Beth Stackpole: State of the CIO, January / February 2017 

Harvard Business Review: How the Meaning of Digital Transformation Has Evolved, May 29th 2017

Marketing Week: What does ‘digital transformation’ really mean? 14th April 2016

PWC survey, 2017 Digital IQ, A decade of digital, keeping pace with transformation, January 2017