February 26, 2011
Question asked on an IT Certification Website:
Is IT still a good career path or are most of us be out a job in the future?
So here are my thoughts and observations on this topic:
IT is a good career path if you:
1) Can continue to learn well and learn rapidly
2) Can understand the business value of what you are doing now
3) Can understand how strategy and business models are shifting in favor of cost-effective and business enabling trends that are cheaper and add more value to the organization and to the customer
4) Can understand how what you are doing enables your organization to compete and survive as a business entity, now and in the future
5) Can help build and enable business models which utilize new viable trends to help drive greater and greater efficiencies in business
6) Can communicate all these ideas effectively in writing, in speaking, in presentations, and using the most cost effective tools for these purposes
A friend of mine used to tell me stories about the IT staff and IT leaders in a company being like a sacred priesthood that would try to understand the business problem, they would go back and stand around the computers, chant magical incantations and prayers and try to get the answers that business leaders wanted and needed to run the business. You can imagine what he was saying and also how frustrated the business leaders must have been.
And now with a world that runs on IT in a global 24-hour business cycle, people, especially business leaders are more tech-savvy than ever. Even President Barack Obama carries a Blackberry to communicate frequently (albeit securely) with those in his inner circle. (On another note, I would love to see a week’s worth of those messages.)
Anyway, here are some trends and observations that may be worth noting so you can plan your own IT career moves for the future (I think they call this the handwriting on the wall...):
More Computer Work, and Less People to Perform that work, because IT people represent a labor cost that can be managed and optimized.
Microsoft operates the Chicago Data Center, which is its flagship Cloud Data Center, with a core staff of three employees and a staff of contractors that total about 35. 16 are facilities people, 16 are technical services staff, and the rest do asset management and janitorial services. The facility is massive, occupying 705,000 square feet, with 120 MW of power, and will eventually contain 600,000 to 800,00 servers. It is also the first Microsoft facility to operate the Data Center modules, each of which contain about 2400 servers.
Despite the fact that it seems like a slavish way to run a Data Center, Microsoft seems to understand how to set up an efficient information technology Data Center operation and run it like a business that will cost effectively service its customer base (Users of HOTMAIL, BING, Azure, Exchange, SQL Server, etc.)
Computing will become Centralized and organized into a grid that can offer services at highly competitive low prices, and this trend will mimic the 19th century trend of creation of Power Companies with a power grid to distribute electrical power to businesses and home consumers. The Internet and other technologies will help drive this trend.
Nicholas Carr published the Big Switch in January 2008. In this book, he described the trend of IT becoming a commoditized utility, mirroring how companies eventually started buying their power from centralized utility companies instead of generating their own power. This is more cost effective and it is a model that is still used today.
The Big Switch
IT Doesn't Matter
Carr is probably right. His book was a best seller on the New York Times Business Books best sellers list and the Wall Street Journal's best sellers list. Less than a month after it was published. It is now in its 7th printing. (Who do you think is buying and reading this book? If you guess Business Leaders and IT Executives (CIOs, CTOs, Directors), you would be correct.)
On another note, from several remarks I read, I know many of you HATE the C-word, but the Cloud is not only coming folks, its already here, and business leaders and consumers embrace the idea of how great the Cloud is, more and more, every day.
Organizations, especially the U.S. Government will recognize the Cloud for its potential to help create greater efficiencies the business uses of IT, and they will embrace the Cloud in a similar way that offshore outsourcing was embraced as a way to drive down IT costs.
Burgeoning Clouds: Cloud Computing Will Mean Outsourcing Government Information Technology to a New Level by David C. Wyld Southeastern Louisiana University
Executive Summary: Cloud computing will become a significant part of the $3.4 trillion information technology marketplace, and the public sector will be an important driver of cloud spending and penetration. This article examines the benefits of cloud computing for the public sector and the efforts underway in the United States, under the Obama Administration and the first-ever Chief Information Officer for the federal government, Vivek Kundra. We could well see the development of a new model for information technology delivery, usage, and spending.
This is a trend that already has people excited enough to pursue it. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, and Verizon wouldn't be spending billions of dollars on their Data Center initiatives if this trend was not real and if they perceived that it would decrease in the near future. Therefore, they are in a race to be there, to embrace the Cloud Computing model and to each compete for their slice of the pie in the future.
The use of cell phones and PDAs will cause a dramatic shift in Internet traffic and will become the dominant driver in data usage on the Internet, possible as early as mid-2013.
Ingram, M. (2010). Mary Meeker: Mobile Internet Will Soon Overtake Fixed Internet. A web article published at Gigaom.com. Retrieved from the web on July 19, 2010 at
The IT industry is shifting in favor of apps and devices that support this trend.
The potential for the Internet and Social Media to be tools that facilitate rapid communication and societal changes that empower groups of people to overthrow despots and bring about change will increase. In the meantime, there will appear to be chaos and uncertainty in those areas of the world that cling to the models and order and stability that was familiar to them in the past.
Whenever there is chaos, it represents opportunities for change and for money to be made. Anything that represents enablers that will bring back security, stability, and some semblance of order to the masses will be in demand.
As I stated earlier this week, I believe the future of IT is in these areas, and each of these areas requires skills and knowledgebase I listed earlier.
Data Center Management
I will also add to this mix, Program Management
And if you don't think I am taking my own advice and observations seriously, I completed an MBA not long ago. And I am teaching Data Center courses at a local institution of higher learning.
Remember, in the future, there will only be two types of IT people: The Quick, and the Dead.
William F. Slater III
ISMS Architect and Data Center Manager
“It doesn’t matter how many or which certifications you have. It only matters how well you communicate and how well you enable your organization to be successful in its business environment.”
-William F. Slater III
Copyright 2011 by William F. Slater, III, Chicago, IL, USA, All Rights Reserved, Nationally and Internationally.
Last Updated: Sunday, February 27, 2011