What's Next in Information Technology Management


December 13, 2005
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Annual Employment Panel

This month's meeting sponsored by
Root Group:  
Check Point Software Technologies:

Times are changing right before our eyes.  What skills are in demand and what do we have to do to recruit and retain talent?  Each December we bring together a panel of courageous people to tell us what they see in Colorado employment trends.  Then, we ask them to predict the next year.  Please register early.  This tends to be a popular and useful meeting each year.

We will bring together a panel representing recruiting, industry, and government.  The panel members will be: Reid Cornwell (representing education), John Picanso (State CIO) and Carl Mather (representing IT recruiting).

Carl Mather
Carl Mather is Director of Client Services for EDP Recruiting Services, Inc.  He has 12 years of experience in the Colorado IT market; over eight years as an IT recruiter.  Carl is Past President of the Rocky Mountain Information Management Association.  He graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Information Systems and writes articles and speaks on issues facing the IT community.  He can be reached at .

John Picanso
Chief Information Officer, State of Colorado

As Chief Information Officer for the State of Colorado, John Picanso is responsible for leading the Office of Innovation and Technology; monitoring trends and advances in communication and information resources and data processing; coordinating the statewide IT planning and budgeting processes; and developing policies and procedures for statewide IT standards.

Picanso has been with the Department of Agriculture for nearly seven years. His duties included leading technology development efforts in the areas of Homeland and agrosecurity; preparedness and response, livestock disease surveillance, data collaboration and integration, and risk assessment and mitigation. Prior to joining the Department, Picanso worked for USDA/APHIS, Veterinary Services serving 13 western states, and was a research associate at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis.

Under his leadership at the Department of Agriculture, Picanso and his team were the recipients of the 2002 CIO 100 Award for “enterprise integration,” and the 2002 Infoworld 100 Award for implementing web services within the enterprise. In 2003, he was named “CIO of the Year,” by the Colorado Information Managers Association.

W. Reid Cornwell, PhD
W. Reid Cornwell, PhD., is the former CEO of Intratech a respected high tech executive search firm and is a nationally recognized industrial organization and communication authority. He has led many successful pre and post takeover reorganizations.

Dr. Cornwell is a published author and his most recent offering is "A Primer of Internet Marketing, Metrics and Management" will be released in the fall of 2006.

He is an IT education patriot, and long-time technology enthusiast, advocate and ethicist. Dr. Cornwell is the Director of the upcoming IT Summit and is the Founding Director of The Center for Internet Research where he advocates for social responsibility in science and in business. In addition to being a former, highly decorated Marine Officer, and three tours in Vietnam, he has a diverse background including executive recruitment for major companies and two professorships at Steubenville University and the University of North Carolina System.

In his support for the development of young minds, Dr. Cornwell is an Eagle Scout and former Boy Scouts of America Board Member and Commissioner.

To learn more about Dr. Cornwell and his fascinating research, please see the following link: .

This month's meeting sponsors:

The Root Group is a Colorado-based company that has been focused on IT infrastructure since 1989. Our role is to help our customers select, deploy and maintain the appropriate systems technologies that meet their business objectives. Our expertise is focused on security, networking, servers, storage, and the data center.


Carl Mather, a panel member, was recently quoted in the Denver Business Journal:

Smaller tech players feel need for workers
Bob Mook

Denver Business Journal

While employment statistics suggest the technology industry lags behind the rest of the state's economy, local recruiters say small tech companies are hiring at a rate not seen since the tech boom of the late 1990s.
"Recruiters are seeing a general uptick," said Greg Barman, who works as senior technical recruiter for The Innovar Group, a Denver-based recruiting company. "It's not quite across-the-board recovery, but it's fairly broad."
Barman points to the growing membership of the Colorado Technical Recruiters Network (CTRN) as evidence that prospects are improving in the IT industry.

The organization more than doubled from 60 to 135 members in the past year. It had about 300 members at its peak in 2000.

After the tech bubble burst, Barman said, about half of the tech recruiters he knows were out of work -- himself included. Many recruited in other industries. Others left recruiting altogether to pursue more lucrative jobs, such as selling mortgages.

But now, the CTRN is planning a training conference in 2006 and hosts regular speakers during its monthly meetings -- events that would have been unthinkable during the recession, said Barman, a member of CTRN's board of directors.

Recruiters say much of the hiring activity is occurring within small software companies -- particularly those that specialize in enterprise software to help businesses operate more efficiently.

Jobs in the "information" sector (which includes telecommunicatons, publishing and some software products) declined by 3.5 percent in the last year, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
But a good number of software companies fall under the much broader category of "business services" -- in which employment grew 12.6 percent between October 2004 and October 2005.

Other tech hot spots that might be defined as business services include storage, network security and technical projects related to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Carl Mather, director of client services for EDP Recruiting Services in Englewood, agreed that many of the new job requests are from smaller, niche-oriented software companies.

Mather speculates for every Level 3 Communications Inc. and Oracle Corp. that cut 400 jobs in 2005, there might be several hundred small tech companies adding one to five new positions.
"The market certainly has picked up," Mather said. "I've been in recruiting for more than eight years, and I'd compare it to the level of activity I saw in 1998 and 1999."

Patty Silverstein, president of Littleton-based economic consulting firm Development Research Partners Inc., said she's also heard talk that the tech sector is rebounding, but she concurs the growth appears to be coming from small businesses.

"More than 3,700 companies in the Denver area are classified as software companies and 80 percent of those are small, privately held entities with 10 employees or less," Silverstein said. "Combined, that's pretty significant, but by themselves, they're not making headlines."

Regardless, Silverstein said such companies are critical to the state's economic health because they create jobs, enhance the state's entrepreneurial spirit and drive merger-and-acquisition activity.

Although economic developers stress the need to attract large employers to the state, Silverstein claims the smaller, entrepreneurial companies can adapt to changes in the economic climate more quickly.

While the state's 95,000 information technology workers represent only about 4 percent of the state's total work force, the sector is instrumental in attracting new investments that help the economy, Silverstein said.

Among other states, Colorado ranked No. 3 for Small Business Innovation Research grants and No. 4 for long-term job growth and venture capital investment, according to a cumulative report released by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Silverstein said it's worth noting that tech entrepreneurs who could live anywhere in the country are choosing Colorado as their base of operations.

One reason entrepreneurs like Colorado might be the state's high number of college-educated workers. A recent report from the American Electronics Association showed Colorado ranked No. 2 nationally for college degrees per capita.

Mather said software developers with senior-level skills are in high demand these days -- especially those familiar with new programming languages, such as Microsoft Corp.'s CSharp.
While hard numbers supporting the tech recovery are elusive, other indicators suggest that the climate may be improving.

Darryl Hoogstrate, managing partner for The Innovar Group, said the firm spends 90 percent of its time recruiting IT talent throughout the Front Range. Hoogstrate said in 2005 the Innovar Group experienced 100 percent placement growth over the previous year.

"Due to the tremendous IT hiring growth that we have recently experienced, along with projected budgets in 2006, we are preparing to double our office space and internal staff in the next two months," Hoogstrate added in an e-mail message.

Even the larger, recognized Denver companies are seeking more IT help. Chip Bowen, lead recruiter of staffing for Qwest Communications International Inc., said the Denver-based Baby Bell added 78 new IT employees in 2005, compared with 26 in 2004.

Steve Wille is among the highly skilled tech workers who benefited from the sector's apparent recovery.

Wille, a software developer for about 15 years, did a string of temporary, contract gigs with various companies until he found his latest position on, a popular Web site for job seekers. He is now an associate manager for financial systems at Great-West Life in Greenwood Village.

Many discouraged people left the tech sector after the bubble burst, leaving abundant opportunities for those who opted to stay, Wille said.

But pay scales for programmers, which approached six figures at the height of the tech boom, have cooled significantly.

"I make less than what I made then, but I'm happy to do it," Wille said, adding that he and many programmers were "overpaid" during the boom -- a factor that contributed to higher unemployment levels when the boom went bust. "I think the pay levels are more realistic now."

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