Monday, October 13, 2008

Hot Jobs

Back in the late 1990s when Y2K was looming, people with SAP skills were in high demand. A decade later, SAP skills are still hot although with a slight twist. In the September 29th issue of InformationWeek, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee wrote a NewsFilter article on the topic:

"A scarcity of experienced talent combined with the growing popularity of SAP's products has pumped up pay considerably for those with SAP expertise, according to a report by research firm Foote Partners. Despite the weak U.S. economy, premium pay for a dozen SAP-related skills rose by as much as 30% over the past six months, and in some cases up to 57% in the last 12 months. The study evaluated the pay of 22,000 IT pros in the United States and Canada.

SAP is aware of this increasing demand and is moving to get more talent into the pipeline through alliances with universities, lest it lose potential customers to other ERP platforms, like Oracle, amid fears of a labor crunch."

In May of this year, Marianne had written that SAP was working hard to resolve this issue:

"SAP officials estimate there's a current shortage of 30,000 to 40,000 experts needed to meet the global demand for implementations and support of SAP software. And if you talk to employers looking to hire SAP talent, they'll tell you that finding these people is no easy mission."

While that much demand sounds like a great problem for a software vendor to have, Joe Westhuizen, an executive for SAP, says that "very quickly success can also become a noose around one's neck." Joe reports that the situation has actually improved, as just a year ago there were unfilled openings for over 50,000 SAP specialists worldwide. SAP is trying a variety of ways to encourage more people to learn SAP, including quadrupling the number of universities offering courses in the product.

Many of the hot SAP skills in the 1990s were related to technical implementations, while today's in-demand specialists are more on the functional, business side. Companies need people with interpersonal skills who can help work with and explain the SAP functionality. This is a trend not only for SAP professionals, but technologists in general. In an August article, Stacy Collett wrote:

"The most sought-after corporate IT workers in 2010 may be those with no deep-seated technical skills at all. The nuts-and-bolts programming and easy-to-document support jobs will have all gone to third-party providers in the U.S. or abroad. Instead, IT departments will be populated with 'versatilists' -- those with a technology background who also know the business sector inside and out, can architect and carry out IT plans that will add business value, and can cultivate relationships both inside and outside the company."

You can have a hot job working in the software industry or in the kitchen of a McDonald's (I've done both). Your wage for doing either of these jobs will follow the same simple principle: You will be paid based on how difficult it is for the employer to replace you.

If the quick service restaurant can train somebody new in an hour to do your job flipping burgers, then you will always only make minimum wage. However, if McDonald's has to train somebody for months to come up to speed on their SAP environment, then they will pay you a premium for that expertise.

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I am a project-based software consultant, specializing in automating transitions from legacy reporting applications into modern BI/Analytics to leverage Social, Cloud, Mobile, Big Data, Visualizations, and Predictive Analytics using Information Builders' WebFOCUS. Based on scores of successful engagements, I have assembled proven Best Practice methodologies, software tools, and templates.

I have been blessed to work with innovators from firms such as: Ford, FedEx, Procter & Gamble, Nationwide, The Wendy's Company, The Kroger Co., JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Siemens, American Express, and others.

I was educated at Valparaiso University and the University of Cincinnati, where I graduated summa cum laude. In 1990, I joined Information Builders and for over a dozen years served in regional pre- and post-sales technical leadership roles. Also, for several years I led the US technical services teams within Cincom Systems' ERP software product group and the Midwest custom software services arm of Xerox.

Since 2007, I have provided enterprise BI services such as: strategic advice; architecture, design, and software application development of intelligence systems (interactive dashboards and mobile); data warehousing; and automated modernization of legacy reporting. My experience with BI products include WebFOCUS (vendor certified expert), R, SAP Business Objects (WebI, Crystal Reports), Tableau, and others.