Monday, March 7, 2011

Survey: cloud really is shaking up the IT role -- with some new job titles to prove it

Cloud computing may still only be in the early stages of adoption, but it’s getting harder and harder to say that cloud is just a minor tremor in the IT world. More and more evidence is pointing to the conclusion that this is a full-on earthquake.

In the survey announced today done by IDG Research Services and sponsored by CA Technologies, Inc. (my employer), almost every single person that participated (96% of them anyway) believed that the main thing that the IT department does -- and is valued for -- has changed in the past 5 years. It's not just about running the hardware and software systems any more. Seven in 10 expect that shift to continue in the next 2 years.

Over half of the people attribute the changes to one thing: cloud computing. And that’s with adoption still in its early stages (our survey at the end of last year showed quite a bit of progress with adoption: 92% of the largest enterprises have at least one cloud service; 53% of IT implementers report more than 6. But most everything else isn’t being done in the cloud).

Tracking the shift in IT by watching the new IT titles

So what is this new area of value that IT is shifting to? One way to find out is to ask about the job titles. This particular survey did something that surveys often don’t do: it asked an open-ended, free-form question. The question was this: “In your opinion what job title(s) will exist in two years that do not exist today?”

I got a peek at the raw results: the approximately 200 respondents listed 112 separate answers. I guess that range of comments isn’t surprising. It’s hard to summarize, but very interesting to thumb through. But I’ll give it a shot, anyway:

A bunch of the new titles from both the U.S. and European respondents had cloud in the title. These included cloud manager, cloud computing optimizer, cloud service manager, cloud capacity planning, supervision of the clouds, chief cloud officer, and the like. These cloudy titles describe some of the new IT jobs that are appearing; I walked through some similar new titles in a previous post. Today’s new survey supports many of those earlier assertions from me and others I’ve been following.

Respondents also mentioned some interesting new titles that didn’t explicitly say “cloud.” In fact, only 40 of the new titles that respondents mentioned included the word “cloud.” The rest didn’t. These other titles described some of the increasingly important capabilities, in many cases directly connected to the shifts that cloud computing is causing.

So what were some of those other new titles expected over the next few years? Vendor manager, outsourcing manager, ombudsperson of IT issues, IT vendor performance manager, security/risk manager, chief process officers, chief communications officer, chief business enabler, virtualization solutions manager, business relationship manager, and chief analytics officer (which one respondent specifically described should report to the board of directors).

Pointing to requirements in the shift to an IT service supply chain

While this second set of titles doesn’t explicitly talk about cloud computing, they are being called out precisely because of the shift that the cloud is causing. Specifically:

· There’s a greater need to monitor and manage 3rd party vendors that are providing pieces of IT service to enterprises.

· Risk and compliance are called out as even more important than they are now. In fact, a later question in the survey tagged security management as the role that would change the most as a result of cloud computing. In addition, the survey asked what would be the moment that we’ll all know that “cloud has arrived”? Most popular answer: cloud will have “arrived” when vendors deliver solutions adequately addressing security and performance.

· Virtualization titles were also noted in the list of new ones, but many were higher-level managers, focused on solutions rather than particular technologies. In fact, when we asked which job titles did IT people think would be the most likely to disappear over the next 2 years, they listed infrastructure managers and administrators of all sorts. The folks doing administration, configuration, and management of server, databases, and networks were voted most likely to fade away. (I also did a previous post on the IT job “endangered species list,” if you're interested in more on that topic.)

More business savvy, please

The rest of the survey backed up the requirement implied in these new titles. The belief is that IT is today mainly known as owner and operator of the IT infrastructure. And that is what is changing. More than half (54%) of the respondents see the primary value of IT coming from its role managing an IT service supply chain within two years.

I’ve posted about this shift to treating IT like a supply chain several times in this blog, and it’s something that I and CA Technologies (judging from a lot of the bets the company is making in this space) expect to become more and more real over the next few years.

And with this move, the jobs will inevitably shift, too. That shift, if this survey is right, is starting now. The IT roles, our respondents predict, will focus more on being a business enabler – doing a better job integrating what IT can provide with what the business is asking for. The relationship management and communication skills with the business side of the house become much more important. Does a move to this supply chain model mean business savvy will trump technical IT skills? It certainly seems to be headed that way.

That doesn’t mean IT will banish its techies. On the contrary, those skills will continue to be important, too, given how central technology remains to IT’s success. However, cloud computing is giving IT a new focus and position on the business side of the house that it hasn’t really had before. IT has a chance to contribute more to business strategy. I expect many in IT to jump at the chance. the titles mentioned by our survey respondents make sense to you? What new titles are you seeing appear (or fade away) in your organization?

You can find a summary of the IDG survey, “The Changing Role of IT and the Move to an IT Supply Chain Model,” including graphics of some of the more interesting results and links to download the complete write-up, here.

No comments: