Once touted as a hot spot, the IT industry is no longer the place to be in 2002.
Almost half of the 700 recruitment professionals surveyed by research firm TMP Worldwide claimed the IT sector is "not so hot" as hype surrounding the industry continued its decline in 2001.
Paul Baker, principal consultant at TMP Worldwide, said the days when IT professionals could dictate salary and employment conditions are gone.
An IT manager from a government department in Australia, who requested anonymity, said the main reason why IT may have been regarded as the "not so hot" industry is because of bad media coverage after the dot-com meltdown, coupled with a general lack of investment after September 11.
Brian Youston, CEO of Icon Recruitment, said after considerable technology booms with Y2K and the Internet, 2001 saw the IT sector level out. Youston said 2002 will be steady and offer realistic numbers of job opportunities.
"Although demand has steadied, there will be no hype around IT in 2002. IT will still remain a rewarding career prospect, and it will be a much more stable industry in 2002," Youston said.
According to Youston, last year was all about recovering and, for some companies, surviving the downturn.
"The IT industry is much more wiser moving into 2002 and organisations will be looking for the business benefit for investments already made in technology. 2002 will be about making systems work and gaining productivity advantages," he said.
Joshua Sparks, director of information technology and telecommunications at Robert Walters, agrees that IT has undergone a reality check of sorts, adding that anyone who can demonstrate the ability to reduce costs "is hot".
He said the focus has shifted to return on investment, not implementation. "Individuals need to add value to existing networks and infrastructure, not plan new systems," Sparks said.
Brian Walker, director at E-Career Employment Services, said system integration skills will be a hot area in IT as companies require the most from existing investments, particularly from the Web and back-end systems.
However, Bob Olivier, director at Olivier E-Recruitment Advisors, believes systems security -- from PC virus protection to global risk management -- is the only sub sector showing strong growth potential.
One CIO said the focus in 2002 is on commercial realities, not necessarily on deploying the latest and greatest technologies.