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Looking to future-proof your skill set? You’d be wise to focus on mobile platforms and cloud computing for application development and IT delivery.

IT professionals broadly say that mobile and cloud computing will be a major focus over the next few years, emerging as the most in-demand platforms for both application development and IT delivery.

More than half of all IT pros, 55 percent, expect mobile application development for devices including the iPhone, Android-based smartphones and tablet PCs such as iPad and RIM’s PlayBook will outpace app dev on more traditional computing platforms by 2015.

That’s according to the 2010 IBM Tech Trends Survey, conducted online by IBM developerWorks, which polled 2,000 IT developers and specialists across 87 countries to gain insight into the most significant enterprise technology and industry trends.

IBM noted that with the proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers,  industry analysts are predicting mobile applications sales will increase sharply, with estimates of mobile application revenues expanding from $6.2 billion this year to nearly $30 billion by 2013.

Additional IBM Tech Trends Survey findings include:

  • 91 percent anticipate cloud computing will overtake on-premise computing as the primary way organizations acquire IT over the next five years
  • Mobile and cloud computing are followed by social media, business analytics and industry-specific technologies as the hottest IT career opportunities beginning in 2011
  • 90 percent believe it is important to possess vertical industry-specific skills for their jobs, yet 63 percent admit they are lacking the industry knowledge needed to remain competitive
  • Telecommunications, financial services, healthcare, and energy and utilities rank as the top four industries in which respondents identify as having the greatest opportunity to expand their careers.

“To best understand where enterprise technology is headed, one must pay attention to those who have a pulse on market demands – the developers and IT specialists responding to these demands and creating the next generation of business applications,” said Jim Corgel, general manager, IBM Independent Software Vendors and Developer Relations, in a statement. “These survey results clearly demonstrate that IT professionals see a combination of disruptive technologies and industry-specific skills as key to driving near-term business growth.”   

The online survey was conducted by IBM developerWorks of its eight million registered users in August and September 2010, and includes responses from IT professionals with expertise in areas such as enterprise and web application development, system and network administration, and software testing and architecture.