According to Gartner, by 2021, 40 percent of IT staff will be “versatilists,” holding multiple roles. Moreover, most of these roles will be business-related, rather than technology-related, it predicts.
Furthermore, by 2019, IT technical specialist hires will fall by more than 5 percent. Gartner predicts that 50 percent of enterprises will formalize IT versatilist profiles and job descriptions, and that 20 percent of IT organizations will hire versatilists to scale their digital business. As a result, IT technical specialist employees will fall to 75 percent of 2017 levels, it predicts.
I agree with Gartner that this versatilist shift is real. Cloud computing is a big reason why. The force of cloud computing is indeed changing how you staff IT; indeed, I’m seeing more people in cloud-enabled IT organizations who have more than one job.
However, if you think this mean that things will become less technical, you’re in for a bit of a surprise by 2021. In fact, they will be much more technical.
There are a two major trends that I’m seeing in enterprises adopting the cloud for a significant portion of their infrastructure:
The shift to the cloud is causing a duality of skills
IT staff who once only focused on systems in the datacenter now focus on systems in the public cloud as well. This means that while they understand how to operate the LAMP stacks in their enterprise datacenters, as well as virtualization, they also understand how to do the same things in a pubic cloud.
As a result, they have moved from one role to two roles, or even more roles. However, the intention is that eventually that the traditional systems will go away completely, and they will just be focused on the cloud-based systems. I agree with Gartner on that, too.
The cloud shift is putting more focus on technology, not less
While I understand where Gartner is coming from, the more automation that sits between us and the latest technology means we need more technology specialists, not less. So, I’m not convinced that IT versatilists will gain new business roles to replace the loss of of the traditional datacenter roles, as Gartner suggests will happen.
Think about it: Look the tidal wave of new technologies that are now being provided with public clouds, such as machine learning, IoT, big data, advanced monitoring, and governance. You need the “extreme geeks” to figure that stuff out—not just now but well past 2021.
I’ve never seen a machine learning system that designs and builds its own learning model, an IoT system that sets up data integration on its own, nor a cloud monitor and manage itself. Thus, highly skilled and technical people will still run the show.
There’s nothing wrong with IT specialists taking on business roles—in fact, that’s often a good thing. I just don't believe that IT pros will need to do so because the need for technology skills will be reduced. There’ll actually be more demand for technology skills, just not the same ones we have today.