You need to be mobile to get mobile – surge in IT jobs market

26 Aug 2014

The explosion in the number of smartphones and tablets since the launch of the pioneering iPhone back in 2007 has led to a whole new IT jobs market, says Hays’ James Milligan.

The world is now a very different place from 2007. Our lives have been transformed by the devices we now use on a daily basis, in the form of smartphones and tablets.

As a result, we have seen significant changes within the IT jobs market. And this is just the start of the journey.

So what are the developments to date, what jobs are being created, and what is likely to happen over the next few years?

Much ado about mobile

It’s easy to think that mobile is just about apps; however, it encompasses the whole IT spectrum, from devices, through to operating systems, big data, cloud, security and virtualisation.

In terms of hardware, we’re all familiar with smartphones and tablets. Yet, wearable technology such as smartwatches, bracelets and Google Glass, are gaining in popularity. As they are developed and produced outside of Ireland, getting jobs in the country working with these products is difficult.

However, there is a vibrant start-up community in Ireland surrounding the next generation of wearable technology. This is an area that is growing rapidly. If you’re interested, look at the likes of the NDRC website to find companies and contact them directly for opportunities as their job advertising budget will be limited.

Most devices are powered by iOS, Android or Windows. Yet there are products in development, or recently launched, that use both Linux and Mozilla. Quite often organisations that are developing applications are looking for someone with the relevant operating system experience for that application. This is why you will see jobs ads looking for an iOS developer or an Android developer.

Developing applications for each operating system is expensive, so there has been a shift to building mobile sites in HTML5 that only have to be constructed once, and work across multiple platforms. So if you have an interest in this area and you’re not yet experienced in HTML5, it might be worthwhile to consider upskilling.

App development

If you are interested in app development, have a look at the Irish apps in the Apple Store’s top 100 list. The likes of Ryanair, DoneDeal, RTÉ, AIB, Daft and Bank of Ireland are listed, and are large enough to be hiring regularly.

There have also been some really cool start-ups, such as Soundwave, that have come out of Ireland and have gone global. Soundwave has a job page on its website and, at the time of writing, is looking for a head of UX, growth hacker, as well as offering an exciting internship.

The core positions in app development are typically UX (user experience) designers and developers with mobile development experience using one of the core operating systems (iOS or Android) and a back end language, such as Java, C# or .Net/ASP. If you’re looking for a wide range of job opportunities, consider going down one of these routes.

Analytics explosion

Mobile applications generate a huge amount of geo-tagged data. However, this data is useless unless organisations know how to analyse it in line with their strategy. This is where business intelligence and data analytics jobs merge with mobile.

We are moving to a world where fitness apps will be able to flag potential risks and health improvements to your doctor based on data from your smartphone and wearable technology.

The implications of this are massive, as it has the potential to revolutionise healthcare with more focus on preventative treatments.

Other examples include live traffic data from maps to understand patterns and improve traffic management. Ireland is fortunate enough to boast one of the leading global thinkers on this subject – Prof Barry Smyth from University College Dublin. It is safe to expect major jobs growth within this area.

What lies beneath

We’ve talked about mobile devices, applications and related jobs. However, there is a whole infrastructure ecosystem that enables these devices to function.

Most organisations allow their employees to access their networks using company hardware or through ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD). The user sees a version of their desktop on a mobile device using a hypervisor such as Citrix Xen or VMware – basically virtualisation. As a result, there is significant demand for specialists with these and other similar skills.

All of this information has to be held somewhere and the most popular way to do this is either for organisations to build their own data centre (private cloud), outsource this to a third-party provider (public cloud) or a combination of the two (hybrid cloud).

Building your own data centre is more expensive and less scalable. So as more organisations outsource successfully, this builds confidence for other organisations to follow. We have seen growing demand for network engineers and managers with experience in this area.

Obviously giving employees access to networks and data in a less controlled way gives rise to security concerns in relation to controls, privacy and compliance. Consequently, we are also seeing a rise in cloud security, compliance and governance jobs.

Jobs within mobile technology are going to grow exponentially. Opportunities within the areas I have highlighted will increase, and there will, of course, be jobs in sectors that yet haven’t been invented. The internet of things will see tech developments in everything from household appliances to lighting and heating.

Developments in the field of mobile are so rapid, you will need to be ‘mobile’ in relation to your professional development and upskilling if you are to stay on top of the fantastic opportunities that mobile tech is going to present.

James Milligan

James Milligan is senior business director for IT and talent solutions at Hays Ireland

Mobile apps image via Shutterstock

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