A little (IT) knowledge can go a long way

Computer experts can prove their worth in seemingly unrelated fields such as marketing, says Roger Trapp

One of the cinema's most famous scenes has a youthful Dustin Hoffman in the film The Graduate, being pressed to consider a career in plastics. Nowadays, in what seems like another world, a well-meaning adult would be likely to swap "just one word" for two: "information technology".

The overwhelming presence of Bill Gates's Microsoft, as well as the success of the recently floated Netscape, attest to the continuing rise of the computing industry and those who work in it. But spectacularly well as these people and scores of others have done, it seems probable that some of the best opportunities for the IT-minded graduate will lie in related activities.

After all, one does not have to be too cynical to feel that a specialist skill or talent might take you further in a situation where most of your colleagues barely understand what the Internet is, than in one where you are competing with lots of similarly minded folk.

Once you have taken the decision to think laterally, the openings are almost too numerous to mention. For instance, as financial recruitment specialists never tire of saying, IT goes a long way in accountancy. Of course, there is the small matter of passing the accountancy exams to be dealt with first, but thereafter opportunities abound in the City, industry and public practice alike.

Similarly, a few IT specialists have been making hay in the banking sector for some time, on the grounds that their expertise puts them in a strong position to lead the fight against hacking and fraud.

It has not all been good news. In some organisations there has been growing suspicion about IT departments that have ballooned in terms of manpower and budget. And the spectacular failure of a number of high-profile IT projects will have made the odd chief executive wonder whether he or she is about to become a victim of the same principle.

However, even such setbacks do not appear to be closing down the numbers of opportunities. For the chief way in which companies are dealing with rising costs and the fear of things going wrong is by handing responsibility for such matters to the experts. "Outsourcing", as this is known, is becoming increasingly widespread in many areas, from cleaning and catering,even to accounting, but no more so than in IT. One only has to look at the size of the beneficiaries of this policy - organisations such as Sema Group, Arthur Andersen and EDS - to see that there are plenty of jobs still to be had.

For those not too keen to join the armies of systems people working for this sort of operation, there is another frontier: marketing. With the field becoming less concerned with imaginative advertising campaigns and concentrating more on such strategies as "knowing your customer", IT knowledge, in terms of importance, is fast approaching the ability to write catchy advertising slogans.

One of the results of the widening audience for the Internet is an increasing range of marketing routes and this awareness has spawned various books. One of the latest is Guerrilla Marketing on the Internet by Jay Conrad Levinson and Charles Rubin (published by Piatkus at pounds 25).

The idea is that the Internet and such developments as Microsoft's Windows 95 will make it easier for businesses of all kinds to market themselves - at limited cost - across large areas of the world rather than through the more gradual approach traditionally adopted. Some organisations, such as a recently launched "virtual management consultancy" and a group offering help with workplace stress management, are already doing this. But for the moment, this is not likely to be quite such a jolly experience as the authors suggest.

Far more promising are the marketing companies and the specialist bureaux that they employ, which are using increasingly sophisticated databases to search out their best potential customers and then sending them specially targeted promotions.

Now, if anything is going to make those cool advertising types abandon their dismissive attitude towards "techies", it must be hard information like that.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Nursery Nurse

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Nursery Nurse Leeds November start...

EBD LSA required - Vale of Glamorgan

£60 - £65 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

EBD Teacher - Food Technology Specialist

£100 - £181 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The JobTo plan and deliver all ...

Learning Support Assistant

£50 - £60 per day + plus free travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The J...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker