Living in a shifting IT world

It’s hard to deny that today’s typical IT department is changing in a number of ways, most of which are enough to cause at least some concern on the parts of the people inhabiting those departments.

Our story on Page One that links to our special Web feature at takes an in-depth look at just what forces are working to change the way IT departments operate, and the consequences that these changes will have on IT pros and their managers. The healthy degree of debate around the topic is a clear sign that much of the future is still in doubt.

While new technologies that help to automate IT processes are usually, in the long run, good for the corporate bottom line, they also offer up worries to IT pros sitting in the trenches of a server room or monitoring centre. The classic argument runs that if software is suddenly capable of doing the job of a human, that human and his or her salary is instantly expendable.

Opinions are polarized as to the extent to which that correlation has occurred, but it’s safe to say that many products, such as self-healing networks and remote fix software, are doing their best to accomplish what people have traditionally tackled.

It’s not too much of a leap to say that the proliferation of such technologies can result in job losses amongst IT crews. It seems that change is coming — perhaps not as much as Gartner analysts are predicting, and maybe a bit more than IT lightning rod pundit Nick Carr is calling for — but coming nevertheless.

Whether job cuts of any kind of notable number are a part of that change, it seems evident that at least a shift in where those jobs will be done will take place. The movement towards outsourcing most aspects of IT is the biggest contributor to this shift. Many jobs that were carried out within the walls of the enterprise are now being carried out in the locales of service providers that have taken the IT burden off the shoulders of their customers.

For IT workers, the jobs are still there to a large extent; networks and applications still need to be managed, regardless of whether a company or an outsourcee is doing the managing. Perhaps the toughest aspect of such a trend is the upheaval and uncertainty it causes IT pros who must go through the process of finding a new post and adapting to another company’s culture and nuances.

A well-worn adage states that IT is always changing; it appears that the same can be said of the typical IT career.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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