IT Workforce


CV Employees Nutriate blog post

Return of on-the-job training (in factories) – article in the 2012 September 17 print edition of the Christian Science Monitor


IT Professions

The September 2012 experience of NFL games referred by replacements while the experienced professionals were locked out by the NFL owners (over a contract dispute) is illustrative of the experiences substituting experienced IT professionals with recent IT graduates with little field experience and little past or future profession-specific training.

Hiring Projections

CIOs are hiring (per 2012 Sept 20 InfoWorld article there’s a projected 3% net increase of CIOs planning to increase their IT headcount in the coming quarter (Q4); a 2% increase over the last quarter) despite plans to move more to public cloud and other types of outsourcing and out-tasking solutions. Admittedly a net increase the number of CIOs planning on hiring doesn’t necessarily correlate with a net increase in IT headcount – the 6% of CIOs planning on cutting IT headcount (in some cases due to outsourcing decisions) could cut three times the number of IT headcount as the number hired by the 9%. The numbers also don’t speak to the experience and competency levels of the hires and cuts.  The article does state that there is a larger percentage of legal, sales, and marketing executives planning on hiring in Q4 – but again, there’s no statement of the number and level of hires.  One conclusion could be that new outsourcing will skew to IT solutions (including IaaS and SaaS) instead of solutions at the business process layer (such as BPO and call center solutions).  Another would be that as more companies try to offer XaaS products (become cloud producers) or cloud-enabled services they need to add more sales, business development, legal, and marketing professionals than IT staff – after all, they can readily outsource or out-task most of the IT portion.

Network administration and database management (connection to Big Data?) were two IT specialties with relatively high demand.  This hiring is compatible with public cloud adoption.

How about the 2012 Sept 24 InfoWorld article on GM’s plans to hire 10,000 IT professionals over the next few years in support of an IT insourcing effort?  Given that the hiring is coupled with opening several innovation centers, that the CIO was formerly at Hewlett-Packard and Dell (presumably a key factor in siting an innovation center in Austin), and that the stated focus is on “extending new capabilities”; I detect a cloud (or cloud-enabled) product strategy: perhaps like other large enterprises GM wants to package their competencies into SaaS-enabled BPO products (or custom services).  More likely to be a functional play (JIT inventory management, for example) rather than an industry play (unless they go up or down the automotive supply chain and/or into adjacent industries such as plane or boat OEMs).

The article states: “GM has relied heavily on outsourcers to run its global IT. In 2006, for instance, the company announced it had signed outsourcing contracts valued at around $7 billion”.  A snapshot of variations in GM’s in-house and outsourced IT headcount would be more meaningful.  A BPO contract often results in a much smaller IT headcount cut than an IT outsourcing contract – especially if in-house IT headcount is responsible for maintaining the integration of the IT portion of the BPO service with the rest of the business’ IT.  If GM’s IT was sub-optimal in terms of IT headcount prior to 2006, then presumably the outsourcing contracts signed in 2006 (regardless of the type of outsourcing) would have resulted in a net loss of IT jobs (i.e. the outsourcers would engage fewer IT headcount to service GM than were cut by GM).  In addition to the net IT headcount, we should also consider changes to the workforce characteristics.  For example, from an IT professional’s perspective a shift from ten experienced, highly-qualified Project Managers to twenty or thirty inexperienced, minimally qualified Project Managers is a negative – especially if the latter aren’t provided with meaningful career development.  And from a public policy perspective, the location of that headcount and the IT providers is important (as determinants of income, property, and sales taxes from locally employed headcount and corporate taxes from their locally-based employers and of ancillary benefits such as community investment).

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