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If premium pay serves as a legitimate measure of employment opportunities, then the IT industry entered 2018 in just about the same spot as last year -- a continued position of strength for many workers with in-demand technical CRM skills.
According to Foote Partners LLC, a research firm that each fiscal quarter compiles compensation and other data from more than 3,000 employers in North America, the final quarter of 2017 essentially saw little movement on pay premiums awarded above and beyond base pay to certified and noncertified IT professionals who have one of 968 types of skills. An objective, granular view of IT pay helps tech companies ascertain how much they should compensate their workers with and without certification, as well as new hires. Foote Partners studies pay premiums, so IT leaders can compare salary benchmark levels to better assemble their workforces.
Disconnect between pay and product demand
In its review of the pay for 274,660 IT employees at 3,105 public and private employers, Foote Partners put a microscope to a wide array of jobs, including those focused on CRM skills. One of those findings revealed workers with Oracle CRM skills are experiencing a downturn in premium pay. The extra pay value of that job has decreased 22% since the end of 2016, including a 12.5% drop in the fourth quarter of 2017, reported David Foote, the research firm's co-founder and president.
The cause of the downturn is not yet clear, because there's still a demand for Oracle CRM software, Foote said. "[Demand is] not going down because people care about [the software]," he added. Oracle CRM technical knowledge is still considered a hot skill.
Even though there's now less of a gap between certified skilled workers and targeted IT needs at companies, certified training in CRM skills is still a plus, Foote noted. "For something like CRM, especially for SAP, it makes sense to go specialized," he explained, adding that SAP CRM is among the skilled jobs commanding the highest-paying premiums. Yet, overall, premium pay for many other SAP skills continues to be volatile, Foote said.
Average premium pay for SAP skills increased 1.4% last quarter, but over the past two years, it has dropped 6%. "Premium pay for SAP has been going down," Foote acknowledged. "And that usually means they are not such hot jobs. SAP has been around for a long time and has been going through many growth spurts. They went down [when] marketing to small to midsize customers about five years ago and started creating a new tier of products. Still, what kind of midsize company can afford SAP?"
Workers who are proficient with Microsoft technology, on the other hand, are apparently in high demand, because the average premium pay for those skills, which include expertise in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, are 7% to 11% higher than the market value for regular pay, Foote said.
It pays to be certified
David Footeco-founder and president, Foote Partners LLC
Employers typically place greater value on workers who hold certifications that represent mastery of a certain skill. Foote said certification won't always open the door to premium pay for every IT job, but it usually does for CRM-specific positions. Certification for SAP CRM skills, for example, would be a worthwhile investment, considering the premium pay for those jobs is currently high, he said.
Still, an employer's wants and needs can change quickly, Foote warned. He pointed to chief security officers (CSOs) suddenly wanting "technical people who think strategically."
"They're starting to hire people in cybersecurity who have an ability to see patterns and behavior and don't have a deep technical background, whereas some engineer trained in that [discipline] will tend to put up guardrails. Some CSOs don't want to go too deep in a tech background."
Foote Partners' quarter-by-quarter surveys and research showed after a decade of "high volatility," IT premium pay is stabilizing. "Companies have been chasing certain skill sets, and once they were able to plug in one, they would have another need," Foote said. "But now the volatility is starting to ebb, and companies are catching their breath and getting control."
So, now is a good time for companies to prepare for the next generation of technologies, including AI, blockchain and internet of things, by ensuring they have the skilled workers needed to capitalize on those advancements, Foote reasoned. For the past few years, he added, employers have been relying on short-term fixes to hire the right people. But for the next wave of jobs, companies need to adopt agile compensation methods to prepare for the inevitable volatility -- a proliferation of technology-related jobs and the lack of consistency in job definition and pay programs.