Much is written about the wonders of technology. Often overlooked, is how companies become the best at attracting and keeping the people who make technology work for them-their IT employees. Many companies readily spout the corporate dictum about how people are their most important asset; far fewer actually "walk the talk."Now, with IT hiring on the rise again-especially in the financial services sector where it's projected to increase 28% in the first quarter of this year-industry observers are warning: It may be time to pay closer attention to the human factor in IT.

"We're seeing the market for IT professionals to be highly competitive," says Jean Delaney Nelson, CIO and vice president of information services at Securian Financial Group Inc., St. Paul, Minn. Since 9/11 and the dot-com crash, the number of college students who have chosen computer science as their major has dropped dramatically, she says. "Now, it's four years later, and they are not there."

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