Weekly Word on the Street: Is Seattle the new Silicon Valley?

by Jim Staats | Mar 23, 2012

Takeaway of the week is a bright future for the right job seeker in locales as diverse as Seattle and Asia. Cloud computing, big data and - who knew? - software sales are the dominant themes in the rumbling IT job market. The upshot? Stay current, become business savvy and that bright future could be yours.

Coffee, Rain and Tech
Is Seattle the new Silicon Valley?
While the job market continues to percolate in the titan of tech regions, several factors are leading many to point to the emerald city of the Northwest as America’s next great tech hotspot.
The attractive combination of natural beauty and reasonable real estate, gas and energy costs is leading more start-ups and bigger firms to set up shop in Seattle, a recent article in VentureBeat suggests.

The region, home to multiple universities with formidable engineering programs, offers a deep talent pool, along with favorable costs per square footage of office space. What’s also attractive from an employer perspective is statistical proof provided which shows that average salaries for positions such as project manager are lower in the Pacific Northwest.

Cloud Rains Down Dell Data Centers Across Asia
Seattle not your thing. How about Asia?

Dell expects to build up more than 20 data centers in the massive region in response to growing customer demand for public and private cloud entities. That’s what the firm’s head of its Asia Pacific and Japan region said in a piece in CIO Asia recently.

Pace of investment in these sites, expected to begin in India, will depend on continued growth of demand, said Amit Midha, Dell’s president for APJ. “This is a transition which will run for several years to come,” he said.

The company is also seeing increased demand for its equipment and design services, especially in China, he said. Largely focused on the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Africa, the company started rolling out its services delivery capability in this region beginning last year.

Midha described 2011 as an investment phase for services expected to continue this year.

He expected the company to tap into its 23,000-strong staff in India which to date has been focused on outsourcing for customers in other regions.

Midha said plans called for China to become a hub of delivery of regional services, especially for Korea, Japan and the local market. With more firms going global and continued growth of the middle class in Asia, Dell sees this as a true opportunity in the coming years. Dell added about 1,000 regional sales and marketing staffers in the last fiscal year and saw 10 percent growth in the last fiscal quarter for the region.

Sales Hiring Uptick
Prospective IT job seekers with experience or demonstrated ability in sales may be in luck.

New research shows greater demand for enterprise software sales, a new Forbes article this week states.

The aggregate number of postings for sales jobs on 23 software company websites totaled 4,482, up 34 percent from January, 12 percent from last month and 40 percent up year over year, said Kirk Materne, an analyst with Evercore Partners, a global investment firm. Materne said the trend was a “positive indicator that most software companies are comfortable with the current demand environment and see reasons to add sales capacity.”

He viewed as particularly strong the job openings at CA, Red Hat, Informatica, Citrix and BMC. Cloud computing, big data and virtualization are trends in particular that are helping spur the demand, Materne said.

Big Data Brings New IT Roles
It’s been said before and it’ll be said again, big data is reshaping business IT. The giant glut of mined information available is responsible for a revolution in the industry and the genesis of a hybrid business-IT role, a new Infoworld article posits, in the latest voice to join the choir.

The ability of folks coming into this role to blend business knowledge and tech know-how is coming at the likely detriment of oblivious old-world IT pros, the piece notes.

This availability of such massive amounts of data and the need to decode it is seeping into not just the usual suspects in the technical industry, but other sectors including tool-making, auto repair and healthcare, said Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, author of “Society 3.0: How Technology Is Reshaping Education, Work, and Society.”

“Every industry will require smart technology people with subject-matter expertise who can create new devices and think through all ways they might be used,” she said.

Examples of these hybrid roles include the following: data mining, data visualization, data analysis, data manipulation and data discovery. Experts agree that IT folks who wish to stay relevant need to develop expertise outside of bits and bytes.

“Now we expect our tech people to be creative, and we expect our creative people to understand technology well enough that they can make their dreams a reality,” said Michael Nicholas, head of strategy for Isobar, a digital marketing and advertising firm.

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