The Trend for Business Intelligence Software Jobs

July 2, 2009
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In a 2009 June issue, Software Development Times wrote on the scarcity of software developers. Using figures from the U.S. Department of Labor and from Evans Data, SDTimes showed a decline not only in the number of individuals working in application development roles, but in the number of companies producing software products.

Fewer software jobs and fewer people to do work is a worldwide trend. While Evans Data had predicted in 2009 there would be 15.2 million developers globally, they reduced their estimate by 4%. They point a finger at the obvious culprit: the economy.

Is it possible that Business Intelligence software products might go against this bigger trend?

Throughout the 2009 year, I have tracked U.S. jobs for the various Business Intelligence software products using Monster. Today, I see a 10% decline in BI job postings from January through June of this year.

Hardest hit was Crystal Reports, which has 35% fewer job postings than at the beginning of the year, dropping from 985 in January to 639 to now. This decline may reflect a shift from desktop to web tools as well as uncertainty in Crystal’s future after being acquired by Business Objects and then by SAP. Changes in


In a 2009 June issue, Software Development Times wrote on the scarcity of software developers. Using figures from the U.S. Department of Labor and from Evans Data, SDTimes showed a decline not only in the number of individuals working in application development roles, but in the number of companies producing software products.

Fewer software jobs and fewer people to do work is a worldwide trend. While Evans Data had predicted in 2009 there would be 15.2 million developers globally, they reduced their estimate by 4%. They point a finger at the obvious culprit: the economy.

Is it possible that Business Intelligence software products might go against this bigger trend?

Throughout the 2009 year, I have tracked U.S. jobs for the various Business Intelligence software products using Monster. Today, I see a 10% decline in BI job postings from January through June of this year.

Hardest hit was Crystal Reports, which has 35% fewer job postings than at the beginning of the year, dropping from 985 in January to 639 to now. This decline may reflect a shift from desktop to web tools as well as uncertainty in Crystal’s future after being acquired by Business Objects and then by SAP. Changes in licensing costs might also drive customers away.

On the other hand, peer Business Objects jobs saw a 2% growth in spite of a general downward trend. While Crystal Reports is a strong tool for building standard production reports, Business Objects offers a more flexible tool for ad-hoc reporting. Companies may be changing from Crystal Reports to Business Objects as a move toward flexible end-user architectures instead of having developers build user reports (especially if there are fewer software people).

The leader in BI job demand continues to be SAS, although their 1195 postings in January declined 4%. Another top BI product is IBM’s Cognos, which shed 14% of its open jobs, going from 823 to 706 postings. Openings for Microsoft Reporting Services jobs went down 3%.

Declining demand for Crystal Reports developers is consistent with that for the legacy COBOL programming language (now 50 years old), which also saw a 35% decline. COBOL jobs went from 348 Monster postings in January to 226 now. C++ jobs also went down — 3759 to 3049 — for a 19% drop.

Web-based development positions are not exempt from this downward trend. While Monster did not show the actual number of Java jobs in January — just that fact there were more than 5000 — today the postings are at 4948. Openings for Microsoft .NET programmers went from 3885 in January down to 3351 now, a decline of about 14%.

In the Top 5 List of BI openings, the landscape is changing. While SAS remains at the top with the most demand for jobs and Microsoft stays at number 5 with Reporting Services, Crystal Reports dropped from number 2 to number 4 on the list. Business Objects took advantage of its peer’s decline by moving up two notches in the list, going around Cognos to take the number 2 spot.

At the middle of 2009, the top 5 BI products in demand are:

  1. SAS (increasing as a percentage of overall BI jobs — now 25% of the BI jobs that I track; was 23% at the beginning of 2009)
  2. Business Objects (increasing — 16%; was 14%)
  3. Cognos (steady/declining — 15%; was 16%)
  4. Crystal Reports (declining — 14%; was 19%)
  5. Reporting Services (steady/increasing — 11%; was 10%)

In my work, I have seen demand for BI application development in two main areas. Companies want to save money by eliminating legacy tools. Because of this, companies are consolidating tools and even changing computer platforms in the process.

Also, companies want to build BI applications such as KPI metric dashboards where cost-savings can be visually identified and acted upon.

Either way, it’s the economy driving Business Intelligence software jobs. Companies want to save money by supporting fewer software products and employing fewer people.