IT security experts, data architects tough jobs to fill

The midmarket's increasing focus on risk and data management has made information security experts and data architects two of the toughest IT jobs to fill, analysts at Forrester Research Inc. say.

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But as important as it is to fill those spots with top talent, CIOs will find they need to compromise a bit to bring top talent in, according to the author of the report, Forrester vice president and principal analyst Marc Cecere.

Cecere said he has seen too many CIOs ask the world of the people they put in their hardest-to-fill positions. Job descriptions become exercises in impossibility, asking staffers to excel in so many skill sets: Communication, technical, project management and more.

"Somebody adds this up and it turns out to be a major or minor deity," Cecere said. "One client of mine had a description for their architect that was five pages long. It had something like seven sections.

"Data architects, you compromise on their communications skills. In some, you compromise on their breadth … maybe give up project management skills," he said. "It inevitably comes down to that."

Cecere recommends that CIOs scale back their expectations for those roles -- even as they are forced to pay top dollar. A reasonable job description should be put in writing and used in evaluations.

"Any time you have more than a half-dozen things that you measure them on, anything you add becomes meaningless," he said.

In midmarket companies, where so many staffers are generalists, it is even more important to define the data architect and information security expert roles, lest they never have time to "sit back and take a broader picture," Cecere said.

Fueling the problem is that in most midmarket companies, security and data architecture are only part of the job. "Which is a really tough problem," Cecere said.

Any time you have more than a half-dozen things you measure them on, anything you add becomes meaningless.
Marc Cecere
vice president and principal analystForrester Research Inc.
Jim Maloney, president and CEO of Cyber Risk Strategies LLC, said the demand for qualified information security experts will continue to grow as new emphasis is put on application security and security needs begin to blend with data management.

"As an industry, we've been working on infrastructure security for a while, but software applications have come much more into focus over the past few years," Maloney said.

"And there is renewed emphasis on data security in terms of understanding what data the organization has, how data should be classified, where data is, how data is used and what data-related risks are being faced," he said.

Maloney also flagged identity management as an emerging security field that will just ask more of security experts. All that together, he said, will continue to drive the asking price for qualified employees upward.

"It comes down to supply and demand," he said.

Other jobs ranking highly on Forrester's "Hot Roles in IT" list include data-/content-oriented business analyst, business architect, enterprise architect and vendor management expert.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Zach Church, News Writer

This was first published in September 2008

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