Demand for IT specialists falling

IT departments will shrink over the next five years and the demand for technology specialists will decrease, according to a Gartner study

The demand for IT specialists is decreasing and the size of IT departments is shrinking significantly, according to new research presented by Gartner at the recent Gartner ITxpo conference, held in Cannes, France.

By 2010, IT organisations in middle-size and large companies will be 30% smaller than they are now, Gartner predicts. The upshot is that 10–15% of IT workers today will fully drop out of IT, says Diane Morello, vice president of research at Gartner and the report’s author.

Perhaps the biggest shift in the IT department will be away from the IT worker who specialises in a certain technology and towards what Gartner calls the “versatilist”, she says.

Morello: IT staff levels set to fall
by 30%The versatilist has a strong base in a certain area, which may or may not be technology-related, and is able to interact with people outside of his or her typical domain, she says. A versatilist might have expertise as a project manager or a financial analyst but is able to take on the broader responsibilities required by an IT group.

However, the future isn’t all gloomy for the IT specialist. Specialists that find a decreasing need within the enterprise for their expertise may move to vendors where they can continue to pursue and develop their specialist skills, Morello says. Through to 2010, 30% of IT workers will migrate to vendors or service providers, the study says.

Morello says some projects that traditionally fall within the IT organisation are now falling under the chief operating officer’s umbrella. For example, security, infrastructure management and information privacy are beginning to be defined as enterprise projects handled by the COO, she says.

There are several drivers instigating these changes in the IT organisation, Morello says. The first of these is the trend toward outsourcing and IT automation. The second is business restructuring as a result of mergers and outsourcing, which is leading to constant reorganisations with IT workers vying to fit into the resulting organisation.

Another driver is consumer technology, which plays a role because employees have a decreasing tolerance for the complexity of business applications after using consumer products and services, she says.

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