The new IT crowd

As the economy picks up, organisations will be looking to recruit new IT personnel – but not necessarily for the same jobs left empty in 2008. Here we present an exclusive inside guide to some of next year’s expected IT arrivistes.

Chief Buzzword Officer

Attached to the IT function, but actually reporting to the director of sales & marketing, it’s the CBO’s job to ensure that technology buzzwords and jargon used by company executives in their PowerPoint presentations are up-to-date, conform with the approved list, and are not ‘behind the curve going forward’. The IT connection is crucial, because many bleeding-edge business buzzwords originate in the computer industry. This may seem like a rather cushy role, but as the CBO never tires of reminding his critics, passé or out-dated jargon in a presentation can have serious ramifications by giving the impression that an organisation is not hip to the latest techno-speak. Stock price values can be compromised, corporate reputations marred. The CBO spends much of his working day in the audience of IT technology-related conferences and seminars playing Buzzword Bingo, and then applying a ‘buzz quotient’ to certain words according to how often they crop-up during the course of the day’s presentations, and noting how many delegates can be seen jotting them down to use in their own presentations. Indeed, the CBO is something of a buzzword tipster: those that will hold currency in 2011, he says, include: codify, customer journeys, direction of travel, information hub, informed metrics, key implementation modes, outcomes, project delta, resonance, seismic, sustainability posture, step change, thought leadership, and traction. Those that must no longer be used include: communities of engagement, customer-focused, devil is in the detail, ecosystem, elephant in the room, key enablers, no-brainer, ‘not rocket science’, perfect storm, roadmap, same old-same old, sweet spot, value proposition, win-win situation

Salary range: £39k-£43k.

Biometrics Security Specialist

 

Reporting to the CEO, the BSS is a sinister character, a cross between a Harley Street sawbones and a techie spook, called in to remedy serious or recurrent security misdemeanours committed by end-users; the law now requires it. BSSs carry an expensive leather attaché case full of surgical instruments and biometric security gadgetry – thumb print and iris scanners, wearable ID tags, RFID chips, barcode readers, to name but a few. (A tongue papillae scanner seen at Biometricia Expo is currently under evaluation.) The BSS’s mission (and he has decided to accept it) is to ensure that the human body is modified to incorporate non-removable chips and other devices, which will be used to authenticate its owner’s identity against the enterprise system’s IT they want to access. However, once colleagues have submitted to the BSS’s scalpel – had chips inserted under their fingernails, and barcodes tattooed behind their ears – they have no idea what personal information they are unwittingly supplying to other data capture systems in the vicinity. The BSS is not beyond reproach. Reporting directly to the top leaves ample opportunity for unscrupulous ones to sell individuals’ private data and locational information to anybody willing to pay the market rate.

Salary range: £45k-£50k pa.

Data Integrity Officer

Sophisticated business intelligence, encryption, and storage management software were supposed to make data loss and corruption in large enterprises impossible; but it takes an automated computer process to really mess things up. The DIO is the ‘troubleshooter’ (the word appears on his business card) called-in to find all those mission-critical files that the software insists no longer exist. He also has to stitch back together those that the de-duplication process has dissected into blocks or bytes, and scattered to different locations across the storage area network (SAN). He is also tasked with finding out whether, beyond the first worksheet titled ‘1985’, the Excel spreadsheet detailing customer and business partner payment accounts actually contains anything intelligible at all. Such a laborious manual process requires a mixture of rare talents, those usually found in the national audit office public servants or your nearest firm of actuaries. As the DIO will insist on a year’s pay for every terabyte of data they have to sort through, plus a complicated bonus scheme based on the amount of users, PCs, and servers they have to search, they don’t come cheap. In fact, this critical data recovery project is costing several times more than the investment needed to get things right in the first place… still, at least there’s some business continuity built into the process: a lack of visibility into the complicated cost structure remains a KPI constant.

Salary range: £38k-£42k.

Chief Information Lobbying Officer

Most chief information officers are pushed for time, what with tracking Apple’s share price, consolidating IT staff headcount, and giving keynote speeches, so delegation and the exploitation of board members’ ignorance of all things technological are the keys to their corporate status. Having to go cap-in-hand to the finance officer for investment in IT is tedious and humiliating enough, but explaining the ins-and-outs of emerging technology adds a degree of complexity best outsourced to someone that can concentrate wholly on the task. Step forward the chief information lobbying officer – political lobbyist, travelling salesman, children’s magician, and professional sycophant rolled into one. Any success not instantly secured by a sharp suit, public school accent and a smoke-and-mirrors PowerPoint presentation, can be consolidated in the local lap dancing bar later on, or by prompt delivery of branded executive gifts to board members and their spouses. Spotters note: the CILO has no assigned desk, but moves from meeting to meeting all day, every day, and sports both iPhone and BlackBerry.

Salary range: £27k-£28k

Work-hack Prevention Officer

   

‘Hacking work’ is all the rage. Everyone knows that if employees were to work only according to the rules, and use only the IT that the IT department decrees, productivity would plummet. Half of the reason why sensitive company data leaves the building, and ends-up languishing on Hotmail accounts and mislaid USB sticks, is because of the rules imposed by the in-house IT systems: email inbox caps, shared drive limits, Web access prohibitions... all seem designed to curtail efficiency. The work-hack prevention officer operates as an agent provocateur, reporting to the HR and IT directorates. Their role is to entice colleagues into using non-standard technology work-arounds for their various jobs and assignments. First they befriend you at the drinks machine, then in hushed, conspiratorial tones suggest that the workgroup to which you have both been seconded would be better communicating via a Google Groups account, rather than the company’s SharePoint site; or that you should host training videos from YouTube, rather than through the Intranet that falls over if more than one person tries to view a video at the same time. It’s not in accordance with company guidelines, you know, but those in-house IT services are just so darn slow, while those free, Web-based services meet your need sans demur... and this nice lady seems genuine in her desire to make work processes easier... but, in fact, you have been set-up. Within an hour of uploading your first spreadsheet to GoogleApps, you receive a summons from the HR enforcer, who has been kept apprised of such goings-on by the WHPO. The ‘colleague’ revealed to be the WHPO is nowhere to be seen, ignores your emails and voicemail messages, and has been reassigned to a new department to entrap another unsuspecting soul.

Salary range: £27.5k-£29.5k

Director of Ethical Hacking

The director of ethical hacking is your friend. She only wants to get to know you better. And to find out your password for whenever she wants to be you. You’ll only know when she’s taken over your identity and shown once again that the security systems at your employer are about as good as chocolate fencing in the Sahara. The director is a mistress of disguise and subterfuge – ‘hacking the human’, as she calls it ­– especially when she’s ringing up to pretend that she’s the boss’s PA, or a long-lost friend who absolutely needs access to your colleague’s Facebook. She has multiple identities on social networks and uses them to coax workmates into divulging sensitive internal information. She can be espied scattering USB sticks in the car park, ready to be picked-up by unwary workers who will infect their computers with her chosen password keylogger. When she breaks into the company’s IT it’s only partly because she likes doing it, but it’s mainly for the company’s own good. The big shiny showroom-fresh car, and matching shiny office, make sure she stays doing it for the organisation’s good. But don’t worry if she leaves to give some other CEO get the fright of their lives when they get the customer database mailed to them, she won’t be selling your secrets; she’s already broken into the competition, and sold theirs. After all, doesn’t every good worker deserve a bonus?

Salary range: £45k-£50k.

Enterprise Mashup Engineer

The EME has a simple motto: what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine depends on which Open-source licence I signed-up to. He also likes to assert: “Copyright died the day the first flatbed scanner was switched on.” Often seen sporting odd socks and accidentally geeko-bohemian personal style, everything about the EME is in a hurry, including getting dressed. Conversation is a blur as the EME rattles-off important sounding declarations about ‘RESTful APIs’ and ‘cross-site scripting’. The EME is a campaigner and evangelist, always ready to deliver rapid-fire lectures on the importance of software freedom and the evils of closed databases, while waving around a sandwich and downloading the latest gobbet of data made available by the government, whether it’s relevant to the business or not. He ‘captures’ every White Paper and Technology Briefing that’s published to the Web, and saves it to the shared drives, then emails selected managers suggesting that time spent perusing this dross will be ‘repaid’. (Nobody looks at it, of course.) It’s better to clog-up the shared drives with Terabytes of this stuff, despite the fact that it will be available on the Web for years to come; for, despite the fact that the EME believes that ‘the future is Cloud-shaped’, he is a download addict. On the project front, you can rest assured that whatever the mashup engineer does it will get slapped together fast, like Frankenstein’s creature, from a kit of parts lying around the Internet not.

Salary range: £30-£34k

Support/Customer Service Ninja

The support/customer service ninja is a master of stealth and agility. Walls are no obstacle, and locked doors may as well be open. Stuck in a call centre surrounded by high-caffeine beverages, and food that has more in common with lard than anything with genuine nutritional content, the S/CSN is slightly less-able to deal with physical obstacles. Even open doors can present a problem if attacked from the wrong angle. But the ability to tell people to ‘turn it off and on again’, and get them to do it, has become such a prized skill that grade inflation has taken hold. Rank-and-file staff are always nice to this class of IT professional, because they never know when they might need to call upon their favours. However, now that more ‘alpha geeks’ being recruited are adept at resolving their IT probs without recourse to the helpdesk, traditional S/CSNs might find interpersonal relations a tad less affable. You have to question why anyone earns the tag ‘ninja’ when they announce their presence on the phone, rather than sneaking up on users twirling non-Wii-compatible nunchucks in the quest to fix an Outlook glitch; but remember that top support ninjas can get promoted to Samurai: they don’t go around rescuing harassed peasant farmers, but collect awards for returning wayward emails and closing trouble tickets. And the secrets they know about senior execs’ cack-handed use of technology will serve them as a force field in the next round of redundancies.

Salary range: £30-£33k

 

Further information

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-it-crowd

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