IT is not going away – But the worker profile changes

By : |July 13, 2005 0



Laurie M. Orlov, John C. McCarthy
with Andrew Bartels, G. Oliver Young, Michael Hudson, Samuel Bright

Since
the bursting of the dot-com bubble, IT has been in a crisis of confidence. With
the slowdown in IT spending and the rise in offshoring, everyone from
programmers to CIOs has been questioning the future and validity of his or her
role and career choice. But IT isn’t dead – just suffering a "midlife
crisis." The focus and nature of IT employment will change dramatically from
blue-collar, technical-based skills to more white-collar management and
design-centric positions. This shift will bring an increase in salaries and
visibility to IT staffers. However, to prosper in the more mature IT world,
executives and colleges need to revitalize the image and development path so
that talent will be available to support its increasingly critical
responsibility.

Information
technology’s midlife angst

In
its relatively brief history, IT is notable as a field of dramatic pendulum
shifts. IT has swung from centralized to decentralized and back; from
mainframes to PCs and back to centralized servers; from all in-house to
outsourcing; and from near-hysterical overspending to bone-level cost-cutting.
The dot-com bust precipitated another shift regarding the validity of the field
itself – a view of its commoditization and disappearance, and an image that has
morphed within the past five years from a hot, hot growth career to a field
that high school and college students are avoiding. This latest swing has left
the impression that the future of IT is up in the air – the mystique that once
surrounded IT as the career of the future has been shattered. Today, a certain
schizophrenia hangs over IT, which is in the midst of:

Slow-growing,
but still-growing, IT budgets and salary spending. . .
In 2004,
IT spending grew at a modest 5% clip, and 2005 promises to be only slightly
more robust at 7%. Which spend categories are growing the most? Computers and
peripheral equipment (10%) and outsourcing (9%). Those that are dragging the
average down are services (up only 3%) and telecommunications equipment (down
2%). And IT staff spending is projected to grow 6% on average in 2005.

But
also a steady growth in outsourcing and offshoring.
It is
"common knowledge" that outsourcing, particularly of the offshore
kind, is having a dramatic impact on IT jobs. And outsourcing is certainly
growing, validated in a recent survey of Forrester’s Oval members, 34% of whom
had staffs larger than 500 employees. A small percentage of the total – seven
responders – told us that they outsource more than half of their staff members.
But most of the respondents outsource less than 25% of their staffs. And 36% of
the total respondents indicated that they intend to increase the percentage
outsourced from where it is today (see Figure 1). 

CIOs Plan To Rely More On Outsourcing

Source:Forrester

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