IT Jobs in the Future

IT Jobs in the Future

The “IT Department” is shrinking.  Cloud computing means that more and more applications are running outside the datacenter.  In fact, with PaaS and SaaS solutions, big non-IT companies are often not even managing their own OSs, software platforms, and monitoring stacks.  These same companies are also employing fewer and fewer developers as they start to look to either lower price, or more highly skilled developers (and in some cases both) to work on their projects.

The ecosystem that is emerging is significantly better than the one we have today.  I know it means less jobs, but it means lower costs and more profitable companies.  Companies who will use and pay for only the resources they need (whether we’re talking about the historically bloated datacenters with dozens of servers running at 15% utilization or the underused and often unsuccessful banks of developers at many large companies).  In the new system a company will identify a business need, spin up cloud infrastructure resources, a few internal managers, and a legion of developers that are a good fit for the project and they will tackle the project.

The IT department will be better, but it will also be leaner.  Those of us who work with/in IT departments today will enjoy working for these IT departments of the future, but many of us have some work to do before we’ll be qualified.  I’m seeing several different roles emerging:

  1. The Translator – This role will largely work directly for companies that consume IT rather than the ones that provide it.  They will facilitate the understanding of the business direction and coordinate the right resources both within the company and outside to accommodate that direction.
  2. The Talent – It is becoming easier and easier to identify the designers, developers, and technologists who know what they’re doing.  The ones that can make an interface that’s not just functional but will drive business or the engineers who can get the most out of a heap of metal.  These people don’t/won’t/shouldn’t understand the business end of things, as the world gets more specialized it is becoming harder and harder for them to keep up with the technologies in their world and they need to stay focused.  They’ll be paid a premium by IT companies to solve only the toughest of problems.
  3. The Management – Creating a world where resources (both development and infrastructure) materialize instantly at the start of any project and continue to run as long as they’re necessary sounds so simple.  It’s not.  New business models and new ways of motivating people will need to emerge.  It will be creative managers that can come up with and run these new models.
Each of these three positions will probably demand a high salary and a nice perks package.  Those of us who stay current on the latest technologies and show the capability to understand them and lead will fill these positions over the next 5-15 years.  Unfortunately, as an industry, the shrinking of the IT department will mean that many will lose their jobs or be reduced to the painfully simple (and poorly compensated) roles of turning servers on and writing simple code.  I feel that the writing is on the wall though, and it’s time for those of us in IT to adapt to the coming changes.