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IT Is Everywhere: Are We “Back to the Future”?



Top industries for IT pros in the Twin Cities

Although there is a clear absence of hover boards in 2015, Back to the Future did predict many things correctly, including technological advancements like thumbprint technology and video conferencing. The truth is many of the technologies in the trilogy are used today. With technology integrated so heavily into our lives, it’s easy to see why the need for technology professionals and IT consultants goes beyond IT companies, and even IT departments. Technology not only informs business decisions, business decisions are often also made around technology.  It’s no longer CIOs and IT Directors alone who are planning and leading technology projects, but CMO’s and Marketing agencies are using technologists to drive their goals as well. Which means, your skills are not just needed, you have options as far as where you to use them.   

The Twin Cities are extremely diverse from a business standpoint. From Finance to Healthcare, Retail to Information Technology, almost every industry is represented in the greater Twin Cities area, making your career opportunities vast and varied. 8.5% of all jobs in Minnesota are in Science and Technology, with two hot roles outpacing all the rest in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area: Software Developers and Computer System Analysts. Both of which are represented in the Top 12 Occupations in the Metro Region for the Twin Cities.

While some skills are transferable from industry to industry, every industry also has unique skills, technologies, knowledge, and experience needs. And in the current market, specialization is king. So what does it mean to be an IT consultant or employee within those industries, how do you choose which one is for you, and if you aren’t working in your ideal industry now, what skills do you have to learn to make the move?  Read below to learn the desired skills that employers are looking for in the following industries: online retail, digital marketing, technology companies and startups, finance, and healthcare.

Online Retail: Personalizing the User’s Experience

The market for Online Retail is fierce and to try to gain the competitive advantage, retailers are focusing on two big technology trends this year: Customer Experience Management (CEM) and Security. Retailers are working on personalizing each user’s experience through CEM. Retailers want relevant products delivered to their customers in real time.  This means that Big Data is more important than ever for retailers and in turn, so is their need for Data Analytics, Business Intelligence Analysts, Data Miners, Reports Developers and other  data specialists. Online Retailers also need all their systems—from the website, to applications, to computers—to communicate well with each other.  Every part of the consumer’s experience needs to be flawless to maintain their customers. 

Security has also been a big topic in the news for retailers.  Large corporations who have been hacked, like Home Depot and Target, make customers think twice before logging in to shop online.  Many security systems for retailers are out of date. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the threat of hackers and security breaches is reaching an all-time high.  These components are requiring retailers to make security a top priority this year, so companies need technology professionals from Analysts, Engineers, Architects, and Developers that all specialize in Security. 

Experience with shopping carts, check-in/check-out functions, payments, portals and inventory logistics will get your foot in the door in online retail as well.  Online retailers need professionals in IT to be able to run their ecommerce sites effectively. 

Digital Marketing: Creating Beautiful, Useable Designs

The personalized experience goes beyond Online Retail.  Digital Marketers have been tasked with the need to make messaging as personal as possible and to do so Big Data will take a very prominent role in strategy for any marketer. Digital Marketers will need data analysts who are able to parse through information and communicate with their team about the trends and needs of their target audience.  Digital Marketing also requires IT experts that are able to build responsive websites, created to target the user. 

IT consultants with front end development skills such as HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript as well as experience with SaaS will not be short for work in the coming years as digital marketers need their skills to help their customers and companies’ bottom lines. That means a need for technology professionals skilled in UX/UI design and who have the ability to create easy to use applications and mobile friendly sites. As an IT pro, you need to be able to deliver on scalability to best utilize the marketing strategy of the team. The need for technology professionals will continue to expand as online marketing becomes more complex and personalized.

Tech Companies & Startups: Using the Newest Technologies

Technology companies and startups are generally using the latest and greatest technology available.  As new companies, they have the benefit of starting from scratch when it comes to choosing the technologies they want to use.  If you’re looking for a career in this area you will have to continually be on the lookout for hot technologies. 

Technology consultants that are familiar with MySQL, MongoDB, Postgre, and SQL databases will have an advantage in working with startups because those are many of the databases being implemented in these new companies. Startups are also looking for IT pros with proficiency in Node.js, Ruby on Rails, Python/Django, PHP, and Java.

One reason startups prefer many of these languages is that they are open source. If you’re looking to get into the startup scene, monitoring open source languages to keep your skills relevant is a good strategy.  Above all, startups, whether technically focused or not, are looking for professionals that are hardworking, innovative, risk-taking, highly skilled, and willing to learn.

Financial Industry: Making Finance Fun

Whether the goal is security, efficiency, or digital currency, technology is an ever growing part of the Financial Industry.  Technology is not only important to the operations of the Financial Industry, it’s also responsible for reshaping it. For example, one investment firm is partnering with game designers to create financial portfolios with the “usability, engagement, and interaction” of most games to make the process of investment more accessible and understandable to its clients.  Usability, engagement, and the convenience of using your mobile phone, are top priorities for the Financial Services Industry, making the partnership with technology more important than ever.

If you are looking to break into the Financial Industry, the current demand is high for Developers, Analysts, Engineers, and Quality Assurance. Those serving the financial industry should have experience in scripting Advanced Perl, Python, Shell, and SQL.  Specific knowledge of tools like Puppet, Rally, and JIRA will also be beneficial to an IT professional in this industry. Technology will play a bigger and bigger role in this industry as expectations from the consumer continue to evolve.

Healthcare: Bringing Healthcare to the Digital Age

Healthcare is becoming increasingly technical from electronic medical records to online diagnosis.  When’s the last time you went to the doctor and had to wait for your lab results for more than a day?  The process is being sped up and so are patients’ expectations.  Greater speed, accuracy, and data privacy are all elements the Healthcare Industry is actively working to improve.  In order to do so, Health Care providers are looking for Project Managers, Systems Analysts, Healthcare Informatics Experts, and IT/technical Management Professionals. Along with the roles mentioned above, certifications such as MCSE, MCP, and PMP are desired in the Healthcare Industry.

Some roles and skills are specific to the Healthcare industry, so if this is where your interests lie, you may have to attain new certifications or further your education in areas like healthcare informatics.  Certifications specific to health and IT include: RHIA, CHHIMS, HIM. However, as the needs for health care transition beyond electronic medical records and into application development and more, the need for other technology experts will grow. What Healthcare most needs is IT pros who are able to take Healthcare into the digital age.


Understanding the different needs for each industry will help you decide which route is best for you. Whether your ideal industry is Digital Marketing, Online Retail, or a Startup, it’s important to know which skills, experience, and technologies will get you to where you want to be. However, as with most things in IT, needs and expectations will change quickly so it’s important to keep yourself informed about your desired industry. Who knows, we could all be using hover boards before you know it. 


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