December 29, 2006, 12:00 AM

It`s a retail I.T. worker`s market, as retailers expand their tech staffs

If you want to know what your competitors are up to, check out how they’re growing their I.T. departments.

If you want to know what your competitors are up to, check out how they’re growing their I.T. departments. The strategy of the day: Expanding the number of professionals skilled in XML, Service Oriented Architecture and other forms of web-based technology that provide for integrated applications and support multi-channel retailing, reports workforce services and research firm Yoh Services LLC, a unit of Day & Zimmerman Group.

The number of web-technology workers at retailers, including contract consultants as well as in-house staff, rose 6% in the third quarter of 2006 over Q2, and Q4 was expected to show a net increase of 10% over Q2, Yoh vice president of operations Charlie Jones says.

“All the different types of web technology that are key to designing and developing web pages, and building web-based front-end and back-end systems, are what’s hot now among retailers-and will continue to be hot,” Jones says. Service-Oriented Architecture, or SOA, uses web-based integration technology to enable a disparate collection of software applications to exchange data.

Project backlog
Historically, retail I.T. staffs have often leveled off in the second half following the launch of products earlier in the year, Jones says. But demand for web-technology in 2006 continued to increase through the year as retailers proceeded to complete technology projects that had been put on hold a year or two ago. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand right now,” he says. “As retailers are coming out of the hard times of a couple of years ago, they’re creating demand for this type of talent, and I don’t see the demand slowing down in 2007.”

Wages also are rising, and are up about 7% this year over 2005 for contract consultants, Yoh reports. Hourly wages in 2006 started at about $45 for software programmers and went as high as $60 to $100 for senior-level system architects, Jones says. Wages for in-house staff were unavailable.

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