This was first posted on businesscloud9 in November 2012
In my previous blog post here I discussed the potential impact of Cloud on the roles performed by a traditional IT department. I discussed that the build, run and operational roles will be significantly reduced as they will move to the cloud to be performed by automated systems or by managed outsourcing companies. However, there will be an increase in the importance of IT strategy, governance, and relationship management. Commercial and financial skills will be key in aligning the relationships with the different cloud providers, and the internal and external customers. The IT department will be more closely linked to the business, and technical skills will still be needed to integrate the services and provide first line help desk support. I suggested that there is a potential challenge with skills. With many of the traditional junior roles in development and operations moving outside the enterprise, what can be done to ensure that candidates for these new strategy and coordination roles will gain the experience they need?
I think that for most roles there won’t be a big change in training. Currently project management, relationship management, and financial roles in the IT industry are not typically staffed by people who studied Computer Sciences. The skills were taught as part of industry agnostic courses or even after being recruited into work. There is no need for the content of the training itself to change. Although there have been many reports of a decline in the number of applicants for traditional university science courses this may not be an issue as the balance of skills in the IT department will change to include more of these less technical, more business aligned roles.
For the IT strategy, governance and control skills, some of these will need to be taught as dedicated subjects within Computer Science courses. Some of the lower level technical skills that are being outsourced will need to be taught so that they can be appreciated and understood even though they will not be used directly in industry.
E-skills research states that employment in the IT industry is forecast to grow at 5 times the national average over the next decade. With the advent of devices such as the Raspberry Pi, I believe that there will be a resurgence of people gaining technical skills in their home life which hasn’t been seen since the home PCs of the 80s were replaced by games consoles.
Where IT roles have been replaced by automated systems, there is a need for training on how these systems work, how to choose them and how to use them. Students will need to understand the concept of the Cloud Service Provider and how to engage with them. It would be very valuable for students and new hires to spend a period of time on secondment to a Cloud Service Provider. This way, they could develop the technical hands on expertise that has been outsourced, forming a basis of the required governance, strategy and control skills.
Universities are changing rapidly. With the introduction of student tuition fees this year students are now customers and universities are more competitive and more focused on attracting students than ever before. They are starting to work closely with businesses. Companies like IBM are working closely with industry and academia, including schools and universities, to develop smarter skills that will prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow – whatever they might be.
Through the IBM Academic Initiative, IBM is partnering with a number of universities to expand the resources and experiences offered to students, better preparing them for the careers of tomorrow. For example, IBM collaborates with the University of the West of Scotland giving students access to software and technology training to gain skills in business analytics and business modelling.
IBM is also piloting an Academic Skills Cloud to make its software available in a cloud computing environment to more easily allow universities to incorporate technology into their curricula, enabling universities to be more agile and nimble in keeping students up to date with the latest technologies. London Metropolitan University is the first in the UK to use this. Anthony Thomson, Chairman of Metro Bank, said, “Metro Bank hires for attitude and trains for skill, but can only recruit among the select number of graduates with strong aptitude for IT. Academic initiatives, such as the one set up by IBM and London Metropolitan University, are extremely useful in helping to build a level of graduates who have the suitable skills set that is required by employers.”
In summary, the future looks bright. We have most of the skills that we need and good progress is being made to establish a pipeline of the right skills for the future.