The allocation of IT staff across multiple ongoing projects is often the most challenging management issue that IT service providers regularly face. After all, there are a limited number of IT specialists in any given category, and optimizing the deployment of those experts is often the difference between success and failure across multiple IT projects that need to be managed simultaneously.
Because of these issues, IT service providers should pay attention to an effort Capgemini has embarked on to employ the IBM Watson platform to optimize IT staff deployments.The goal is to use the analytics capabilities of the IBM Watson platform to better match available staffing resources against any given project.
While Capgemini hasn't quite figured out how to relieve humans of this management responsibility altogether yet, the project has reached a point where it’s clear that a large part of the resource management allocation function going forward is going to be handled by a cognitive computing application.
Moving beyond the PSA?
Today, most IT services firms rely on humans interacting with professional services automation (PSA) software to allocate staff. But as the number of projects increase, demand for expertise tends to become less even. In addition, there are always certain categories of expertise in much higher demand at any given moment. These days, for example, just about every project requires IT security expertise that always seems to be chronically in short supply.
Obviously, not every IT service provider has as distributed a workforce as Capgemini. But there’s clearly more interest in employing a broad range of artificial intelligence technologies to automate everything from how the IT staff is managed to the delivery of the actual IT service itself. For IT service providers, these advances will require them to rethink their approach to IT staffing across the board in the years ahead. Many of the IT tasks performed by people today will be replaced, for example, by virtual digital assistants.
Preparing for an industry shift
None of this means IT service providers won’t depend on human capital. But it does mean the expectations surrounding the value that human capital provides is going to change dramatically. The end customer is going to expect IT service providers to have much more meaningful conversations about how to get the most business value out of strategic IT investments rather than spending most of their time fielding lower level requests for IT services.
That shift will require many IT service providers to develop a much deeper understanding of how IT gets employed within specific vertical industries. Savvy IT service providers are going to start making the appropriate training investments now to enable their people to make that transition. After all, given the demand for that level of expertise, finding people with vertical industry knowledge tomorrow is only going to get more difficult than it is today.
Naturally, that training will also go a long way to instilling faith in employees who are going to become agitated as soon as it becomes apparent that large swaths of their existing jobs are about to become increasingly automated. Instead of waiting for the inevitable, employees that see the writing on the wall will simply melt away in search of more promising career alternatives unless, of course, that career opportunity is already staring them in the face.