Press Release

, November 9, 2005 View All Press Releases

Gartner Says Technical Aptitude No Longer Enough To Secure Future for IT Professionals

Versatility, Initiative and Business Knowledge Essential for Success

By 2010, the IT profession will split into four domains of expertise: technology, information, process and relationships

Cannes, France - 9 November 2005: Gartner today warned IT professionals that technical aptitude will no longer be sufficient to secure their future in IT organisations. Scepticism toward the effectiveness of IT, the rise of IT automation, worldwide geographic labour shifts and multi-sourcing will lead to the emergence of a new breed of IT professional, the 'versatilist', who will have technical aptitude, local knowledge, knowledge of industry processes and leadership ability.

Successful IT professionals will identify themselves not just by occupation-"I work in IT"-but by the industry, process and change programs in which they participate-"I spent two years helping design an Internet selling process that boosted revenue by 20 per cent". IT professionals must also prove that they understand the realities of the business, such as industry, core processes, customer bases, regulatory environment, culture and constraints. Gartner predicts that by 2010, six out of ten IT professionals will assume business-facing roles.

Regardless of whether the IT professional works in a corporate IT organisation, in an outsourcing team, in product development or in business units, their areas of expertise, knowledge and skills will change. "Some will be bolstered, some will be carved up, some will be redistributed and some will be displaced," said Diane Morello, vice president of research at Gartner. By 2010, Gartner predicts that IT departments in midsize and large companies will be 30 percent smaller than they are in 2005.

"If the last decade represented the era of specialists, this decade will mark the era of the versatilist," said Ms Morello. "Versalitists are people whose numerous roles, assignments and experiences are enabling them to synthesize knowledge and context to fuel business value. Versatilists are applying their depth of skills and experiences to a rich scope of situations and challenges and implementing their cross-organisational insight to flesh out teams and fill competency gaps."

With versatilists on staff, business and service providers can stretch their personnel budgets further than they could with specialists. IT professionals with broad insight, deep process knowledge and industry orientated competencies will help companies incorporate innovation and multiple perspectives into IT-based processes, products, services and technologies.

According to Gartner, the landscape for IT professionals will radically change by 2010 as a result of four major global forces. "Enabled by high-speed global networks and driven by companies looking for highly competitive IT skills, knowledge bases and services, global sourcing will become a standard part of companies' sourcing portfolio and will put many IT professionals in competition against their peers in other geographical markets," said Ms Morello.

Secondly, IT automation will also transform the IT organisation and the IT profession; most notably software development, testing, remote system monitoring, operation centers, technical support, storage and networking. Third, the consumerisation of IT-personal devices, online services, mobile phones-will demystify IT, reduce tolerance not only for complicated systems and applications, but also for the departments and people required to run them. Finally, business restructuring-mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, consolidations, layoffs, outsourcing, financial rebuilding, bankruptcies-will challenge IT professional positioning and weaken employee commitment.

"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," said Ms. Morello. "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."

By 2010, Gartner foresees the traditional IT field splintering into four distinct domains of expertise:
  • Technology infrastructure and services. Opportunities in technology infrastructure and services, the foundation of the IT profession, will grow in service, hardware and software vendors-many in developing economies-and wane in user companies. Network design will remain strong everywhere.
  • Information design and management. Business intelligence, online consumer services, work enhancement initiatives, search-and-retrieval practices and collaboration all will grow in user companies, systems integrators and consulting companies. Linguistics, language skills, business and cultural knowledge, and knowledge management will be fertile ground.
  • Process design and management. IT professionals can look at process opportunities from three angles: competitive business processes, design of process automation and operational processes. The first will be the "sweet spot" for companies; the second, for software vendors; the third, for outsourcing vendors.
  • Relationship and sourcing management. Far removed from the traditional skills that IT professionals pursue, relationship and sourcing management will gain ground, demanding strengths in managing intangibles and managing geographically distributed parties with different work outcomes and cultures.

"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," said Ms Morello.

Gartner advises IT professionals to examine and focus on their skills, expertise and desired employment model in order to convey a clear value message to potential employers. To attract this new breed of IT professional, Gartner advises employers to develop growth paths and career opportunities for the four domains of expertise and provide incentives and awards for versatility.

Press Contact:
For further information and to speak with Diane Morello, please contact Bite Communications on Tel: +44 (0)20 8834 3508 or email: gartner@bitepr.com.

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