Any of us who have been around the corporate IT world for more than five to 10 years know that there are cycles associated with both economic trends and technology "sea change" adoption phases (e.g., client/server application development versus mainframe/minicomputer). Clearly, it is advisable to keep your eye on the future to best leverage your career opportunities - especially given the "doom and gloom" of IT job projections by many of the pundits relative to the traditional IT skills of application development, maintenance and management, which are prone to economic trends such as offshored outsourcing.

All the major analyst firms have identified customer data integration (CDI) as a major trend for the foreseeable future (e.g., Gartner and Forrester released their first Magic Quadrant and Wave, respectively, in mid-2005). Further proof is IBM's acquisition of CDI pioneer DWL, in addition to each of the major application-package vendors launching major CDI initiatives - e.g., Oracle (Customer Data Hub), SAP (SAP Master Data Management) and Siebel (Siebel Universal Customer Master). A final proof point is the accelerating investment by the systems integrators in building dedicated practices around this business issue - e.g., Accenture, Alliance Consulting, BearingPoint, BusinessEdge, Sierra Atlantic, Tata, et al.

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