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When it comes to IT jobs, consumerization gives and takes
When IT pros gather around the proverbial water cooler to talk shop, one of the favorite topics these days is the impact of consumerization on IT jobs. Conventional wisdom suggests it's going to reduce jobs. But when you look at some actual numbers, it turns out it's a mixed bag.
As companies close their data centers and move many tasks to the cloud, it would seem logical that IT would require fewer workers, but it's not necessarily a zero sum game. What tends to happen instead is that requirements shift to other places, just as they always have with technology changes in IT.
When we went from mainframes to minis to local area networks, there were probably workers with skills around mainframes who thought their world was ending. It's a natural progression that as one technology comes in, another eventually supersedes it, although it's rarely a complete replacement. Typically there is a long period of overlap.
As IT makes its shift to the cloud, the jobs will shift accordingly. Where many IT pros might once have worked in a private data center, they might now work for a public cloud vendor like Rackspace or Amazon Web Services. Where they might have managed PCs and written apps for Windows, now they're managing mobile devices and writing iOS apps.
Forbes reported in July on some trends seen by job listings service Indeed.com. As it turns out the hottest words in IT were terms like PaaS (platform as a service), Hadoop, and jQuery. If you're truly worried about your future, you might want to consider learning jQuery -- the keyword has become more than 8,000 times as common in job listings since. That's amazing and suggests an awful lot of interest. Or how about PaaS, with a 5,000x rise. .
The site reported that the words "social media" were the key winner, with 1.5 percent of the jobs containing that phrase, which goes to show the trends we discussed in our inaugural post were real enough. But the question hanging there is: Are these trends producing jobs in sufficient numbers to replace the ones lost in the economic downturn in 2008, while taking into account trends like data center consolidation?
According to Indeed's August jobs trends report, not nearly enough. While IT jobs were up slightly for the month previous, they were down 18 percent for the year -- the same as transportation and accounting -- which is among the highest numbers. Only Financial Services and Banking were worse, down 21 percent. The only categories in positive numbers for the year have been hospitality and education.
IT jobs don't exist in a vaccum, and if overall unemployment is high, IT is likely to be affected as well. But even so, adaptation is a key skill for IT workers. Consumerization is not the first (or last) disruption in in IT. It's just the latest.
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