Chief information officers often face pressure points in the enterprise, and many of them stem from gaps in personnel. Not only is it a challenge to retain current staff members, but organizations also struggle to find skilled IT professionals who can help advance the business.
Some professionals are more in demand than others, showcasing industry technology priorities for years to come.
Cybersecurity is a growing concern among businesses of all types. So it's no surprise that the need to bolster tech security is driving demand for chief security officers (CSOs) in the U.S. and pushing salaries up.
CSOs are expected to see the highest jump in C-suite salaries, up 5.3% in 2017, according to the 2017 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals, a new report by Robert Half Technology that includes salary ranges for more than 75 positions in the technology field. While CSOs made between $140,250 and $222,500 on average in 2016, they are expected to make between $145,250 and $236,750 in the coming year.
But what about non-executive salaries? Where is the biggest demand for IT workers, and what does it reveal about overall industry priorities?
Big Data engineers and data scientists will see the biggest non-executive salary jumps in 2017, according to the report. Salaries for Big Data engineers are projected to increase 5.8% from between $129,500 and $183,500 in 2016 to between $135,000 and $ 196,000 next year. Salaries for data scientists, meanwhile, are expected to rise 6.4% to between $116,000 and $163,500.
Why the growing demand?
Big Data engineer and data scientist duties are often similar and may even overlap. But the overarching goal of both roles involves figuring out what to do with the data companies collect and how to use that data to advance enterprise capabilities and offerings.
"Companies have realized they are sitting on a goldmine of data," said John Reed, senior executive director at Robert Half Technology. "There is so much information that can help them gain a competitive advantage and help them grow their market share that it's become a huge area of investment for a lot of companies."
While Big Data was once the focus of specific industries such as retail, healthcare or financial services, today even small and midsize companies are looking for ways to turn their data into assets.
"Companies need people that can take the data they have and turn it into useable information," said Reed. "What kind of info do we have? How do you package that up in a way to deliver that back to the business to help them in making business decisions?"
Overall, the area of data analytics is seeing huge growth, so the fact that Big Data engineers and data scientists are in high demand will not come as a shock. An IDC report released earlier this week predicts the Big Data and business analytics market will grow 11.3% in 2016 and is expected to continue at a compound annual growth rate of 11.7% through 2020.
By 2020, revenue from Big Data and analytics is projected to reach more than $203 billion.
While the demand for Big Data analytics skills is going up, there is a deficit on the supply side, and that's driving higher salaries.
Making networks perform better
The Robert Half report also found huge demand for networking engineers and network administrators. Network engineers are expected to see salaries jump 4.5% in 2017, rising to the $146,000 range.
"The networking role continues to be highly coveted and companies continue to struggle to find qualified people," said Reed. "It's one of those roles that tends to fly below the radar, but the demand is huge."
Robert Half conducts a survey of IT leaders each quarter to ask them which role within the IT department is most difficult to fill. For the last 24 straight quarters, network engineers and network administrators has been number one. In their latest survey, 57% of CIOs said network administrator was the skill most needed but hardest to find.
"The computing environment is becoming much more complex," said Reed. "A lot of companies are struggling to maintain system reliability, to maintain the ability to access systems and get the information they need quickly, to maintain good operating speeds and network speeds and looking at ways to implement wireless networks."
"Technology is great when it works," Reed said. "A lot of times when it doesn't work it has to do with network reliability and network speeds, so people that can help with the tuning and optimization of networks are in high demand."
Web development is also seeing significant demand. Since 2015, web development salaries grew 5.2%.
"It seems like every company we talk to wants to update their website or add functionality or create a better user experience," said Reed. "So web development is another area where we're seeing consistently high demand."