Much has been written about the transformation of IT from simple technology to businesses processes. While enticing on an academic level, the message hits home when we see it in the real spending and hiring habits of business decision-makers.
A recent survey by the professional services firm BDO USA shows technology CFOs are as optimistic as ever about hiring and spending, with 91 percent saying they expect to add capabilities in Big Data, cloud computing and security.
That meshes with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing a forecasted increase in employment in all IT fields of 22 percent by 2020. It is, however, at odds with other IT job counters like Janco and The Hackett Group, which have kicked off 2014 with a bleak outlook for IT jobs, which usually corresponds to channel IT services spending since they are driven by similar forces.
Hackett predicts a loss of 1.5 million IT jobs this year thanks to a combination of offshoring, automation and poor growth. Janco reports polled execs IT hiring and contractor engagement plans for 2014 will be either stagnant or headed downs.
Where is the disconnect? What has BDO seen that others have not, and how might this benefit partners wary about the coming year?
The biggest difference in the data is how broadly BDO defines technology jobs. While many in pollsters focus on the data center, the service bench and the CIO when tallying IT employment and contractor engagement, BDO broadened the question to include technology jobs attached to lines of business like manufacturing, human resources, sales, marketing and public relations.
Thanks to intense industry competition and the need to stay ahead of changing technology, sales and marketing positions are a top priority for the CFOs polled by BDO, with half saying they want to add technical staff and capacity in this sector. About a quarter of the CFOs are also looking to hire in manufacturing and research and development.
This optimistic view from outside the traditional IT shop tells us one thing: IT services as a driver of business outcomes is taking hold, and executive decision-makers know it. That this trend is coming at the expense of siloed IT should come as no surprise to any partner paying attention to the transformation of IT over the past few years.
The paradigm shift is clarified in another recent CFO poll by IBM, which found 82 percent of respondents want to engage in Big Data and analytics projects to support the finance department, but only 24 percent of feel their current technology teams are up to the task.
As enterprise IT jobs move out of the standard IT department and into lines of business, solution providers need to see this as the new normal. Partners need to be less concerned with the technology and more with the solution the technology delivers to get on the radar of the CFO. And they need to leverage their specialized knowledge of the clients’ organization, processes and departmental structures to elevate the conversation.
"2112Group Reports" is a series of blogs produced by The 2112 Group and published exclusively to the Intronis Cloud Backup and Recovery blog, offering insights on business and technology trends in the channel. Visit The 2112 Group on the web at www.the2112group.com and www.channelnomics.com. Follow them on Twitter @the2112group and @channelnomics.