Web development ranks as the most sought-after skill set in information technology departments, according to a recent report from US-based RHI Consulting in Menlo Park, California. The findings are based on a survey of 1,400 companies with at least 100 employees - and are likely to map onto the UK market. An RHI spokesman said this is the first time that "Internet/intranet developers" edged out "networking" as the most popular skill category. RHI has been conducting the survey on a semiannual basis for the past four years. Twenty-three percent of companies said Internet or intranet development skills are the fastest-growing area within their IT departments, followed closely by networking, which received 21 per cent of the responses. Six months ago, CIOs ranked networking number one, mentioning it in 22 per cent of responses, while Internet/intranet development came in third. But Michael Boyd, an analyst at International Data Corp, maintains that networking and Internet skills are so closely intertwined that it's difficult to separate them. "How can you develop a Web server capability without having a pretty good understanding how it's going to interact over the Internet and internal networks?" Boyd asked. Boyd added that Internet skills pervade virtually every area of IT. "There aren't any IT jobs that I'm aware of where you don't have to have some kind of Internet skills," he said. The type of Web skills employers need most are integration abilities, said Gomolski. "A lot of companies have built Web sites but didn't connect (them) to existing systems," she said. Integration skills have become particularly crucial with the emergence of Web marketplaces and other business-to-business sites, said Gomolski. These portals are "complicated because they have to build detailed back ends. There's a lot of research going into developing (business-to-business) market sites. They're labor-intensive projects," she said.