IT pros in Australia should be looking forward to a big year in 2024, as ongoing transformation continues to redefine their roles within their companies. Those who have certifications and capabilities in areas such as security, data analysis and business analysis will be highly sought out and valued by employers. Coupled with an ongoing skills shortage, those pros who spend the effort to develop their skillsets according to current trends will do well, regardless of the broader economic conditions.
Budgets are there for the right solutions
According to Gartner, IT spending in Australia is expected to exceed $133 billion in 2024, which is a substantial increase of 7.8% on the previous year (Figure A). This will be driven most significantly by demand in software, including cloud services, which will increase by 12.8%.
Furthermore, highlighting the impact of the skills shortage, demand for IT services, including managed services, will see spending increase by 8.2%. Organisations, which will want to embrace innovation, will find themselves turning to third parties if they can’t resource the solutions internally.
What this means for IT pros
Upskilling is going to be central to career development for IT pros this year. Those that focus on gaining certifications in areas of hot demand — especially cloud technologies and artificial intelligence — will be highly valued by organisations.
SEE: Australian IT pros with the right certifications and experience will find some big new opportunities open to them.
Additionally, this is a good year for IT pros to consider moving into managed services and developing an understanding of how organisations across a range of sectors operate.
Digital services will dominate corporate mindsets
Australian organisations used the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to invest heavily in digital innovation. These investments are now starting to bear fruit; as across cyber security, cloud platforms, data and analytics and application modernisation, there is now maturity that is leading to advanced technology solutions and new revenue streams.
Areas such as e-commerce, online marketplaces, FinTech and HealthTech are all now meeting the needs of customers who are digital natives and prefer to consume services that way. In e-commerce, for example, Australia is the 12th-largest market, and ranks ahead of markets with much larger populations, such as Brazil.
What this means for IT pros
With maturity, organisations and government bodies alike are looking to start rolling out new digital services. For example, in 2024, the Australian government will launch Digital IDs after several years of laying out the groundwork.
IT professionals will need to be prepared to work in highly agile environments where the focus will be firmly on leveraging digital technology to launch new products and deepen the customer experience.
Cyber security will be a mad scramble for compliance
In late 2023, the Australian government unveiled its 2023-2030 Cyber Security Strategy, an ambitious, far-reaching and transformative approach to national cyber security that aims to take Australia from being prone to data breaches and loss to being a global leader.
SEE: Cyber security trends to watch in Australia in 2024.
This strategy will result in new policies and areas for compliance, as well as enhanced penalties for non-compliance, meaning that cyber security will be an area of enhanced risk for organisations. Some of the areas for action over the next seven years that will start to see movement in 2024 include:
- Efforts to enhance public-private collaboration and mechanisms for cyber threat sharing and blocking.
- Renewed efforts to address the skills crisis by improving Australia’s cyber security workforce and skills pipeline.
- New national frameworks to respond to major cyber incidents.
- Investment in community awareness and victim support.
- Further investment in the national cyber security ecosystem.
- Better efforts to design and implement security in new technologies.
While this is aimed at improving cyber security outcomes across the nation, organisations, and particularly small and midsize businesses, are going to struggle to keep up with the rapid movement that the government is making in this area.
What this means for IT pros
Every IT professional in every area should take the time to develop some level of cyber security competency. Organisations are going to look to their IT teams for leadership on this, and the rate of change means that all IT professionals should ensure their cyber security skills and certifications are kept current and up-to-date.
Where IT pros should focus skills development
There is an ongoing need for IT professionals to act as a bridge between IT teams and the wider business. As organisations rely more heavily on IT to deliver products and revenue streams, IT pros that better understand the broader role of IT within the business will be highly valued.
SEE: Australian organisations are looking to talent as a service to fill skills gaps.
According to Hays, the top five skills for IT pros to focus on in 2024 are:
- Cyber security: Organisations will need to grapple both with the proliferation of threats and the shifting regulatory environment.
- Full-stack development: The demand for application modernisation, apps and digital software will fuel the need for full stack developers.
- Data analysis: In 2024, data analysis skills are going to be even more crucial for making data-driven decisions and innovations.
- Business analysis: Business analysis skills are important for ensuring the alignment and success of IT projects and initiatives.
- Cloud platforms: Cloud platform skills are in demand for managing and optimising cloud services and resources to improve efficiencies as required capacity scales.
IT pros are well-placed to weather the economic storm
Though the overall economy will likely continue to face challenges this year — Australia still has issues with the cost of living, inflation and global macroeconomic conditions — the IT sector, which can leverage technology to mitigate some of these challenges, should see a strong year. For IT professionals, there is a lot to look forward to.