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Online trading brings IT crowd out of basement


IT departments working in isolated basements, as parodied in TV’s The IT Crowd, may be a thing of the past, thanks to online trading, research by six sector skills councils has shown.

The study, led by Skillsmart Retail, found that IT workers, far from their traditional image, now have to be creative, world-aware and business-savvy to succeed.

It also found that booming e-commerce means sectors not traditionally linked with IT are creating brand new technology-related job roles throughout their businesses and working much more closely with IT workers to help them succeed.

The research, carried out by IFF, was one of the first ever studies into how online trading affects working practices and saw 63 in-depth interviews with experts and senior executives from bluechip to microbusinesses.

They represented sectors within the footprint of the following Sector Skills Councils: Go Skills, People 1st, Skillsmart Retail, Creative and Cultural Skills, Skillset and Financial Services.

Ian Wheeler, research manager at Skillsmart Retail, said: “Online trading is now an integral part of many businesses’ work and IT must be woven throughout the business to make sure that they can provide an online presence that fits in with the company’s culture, aims and strategies.

“This means that business people must be much more knowledgeable about IT and IT workers need to show that they not only have the technological expertise to deliver these results, but also the creative flair and business knowledge to do so.”

Results from the survey include:

  • New job roles with new titles have been created, ranging from pickers who work in retail outlets, hand-picking orders made on line, to ecommerce directors who ensure that online trading is represented and managed at board level. There are also business analysts, online marketing specialists and usability specialists

  • Technology expertise changes job roles in all areas of businesses – for example, hotel managers now deal with online bookings as well as those made via traditional channels

  • While companies in the opening stages of online trading bring in freelance technology experts, as they develop they employ staff in-house to ensure that they have the very best people

  • Many IT roles have become much more flexible and varied meaning that staff need a blend of specialist expertise and wider business / sector-specific knowledge to succeed.


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