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Thu 10 Nov 2005 04:00 AM

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Tough IT out

IT departments are set to shrink by 30% within five years, and IT professionals will have to work harder to stay ahead, according to Gartner.

IT departments are set to shrink by 30% within five years, and IT professionals will have to work harder to stay ahead, according to Gartner.

Over the next few years IT departments across the world are set to shrink, as corporate mergers and takeovers, as well as outsourcing and simpler IT products, continue to affect firms’ needs for large IT departments. Gartner says IT departments in medium and large companies will be an average 30% smaller by 2010, and firms will look to employ IT workers with wider skill sets, instead of specialists.

“If the last decade represented the era of specialists, this decade will mark the era of the versatilist,” says Diane Morello, vice president of research at Gartner. “Versalitists are people whose numerous roles, assignments and experiences are enabling them to synthesise knowledge and context to fuel business value.

“They’re applying their depth of skills and experiences to a rich scope of situations and implementing their cross-organisational insight to flesh out teams and fill competency gaps.”

Gartner says IT professionals should start to focus on what successful projects they have been involved in, rather than what roles they have occupied. They will also need to ensure they can demonstrate a contribution to growing a business, as six out of 10 IT workers will be in business-facing roles within the next five years, according to the research firm.

Morello says, “Faced with the primary forces that are challenging the profession, many IT professionals are taking a long, deliberate look at the occupation to decide whether it represents opportunities or dead ends. IT professionals should decide now if they wish to remain in the realm of ‘pure technology’ or redirect themselves to new domains of expertise and develop practical experiences in industries, market segments and core business processes that would help them in that domain.

“IT professionals need to act now by assessing and building their business-specific, core process and industry knowledge. The greater their grasp of the contextual realities of a business, industry, core process or market, the wider and more durable their opportunities will be,” adds Morello.

Gartner identifies four distinct areas of expertise within the IT industry in the coming years: technology infrastructure and services, information design and management, process design and management, and relationship and sourcing management. The research was unveiled at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Cannes, France.

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