5 Ways Cloud Computing Will Change Business and Careers

IT staffers need to take a hard look at their job prospects, and companies need to move faster, among other expected changes.
Posted October 18, 2010

Jeff Vance

Jeff Vance

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Anytime a radical technology comes along, radical changes in business and work follow. For instance, the growth of Google, eBay, and Amazon directly piggybacked on the mainstreaming of the Internet. Similarly, in the pre-Internet years, people didn’t spend their entire days tethered to PCs.

What shifts in business and work will result from the growth of cloud computing? Is the cloud an incremental change that will only translate to small differences, or is the cloud radical enough to usher in wholesale changes?

It’s too early to say for certain. However, here are five ways the cloud is already changing business and work.

1. Those with IT jobs should start worrying . . . now.

If you’re in IT and you have a pulse, you’re already worried. IT vendors have slashed approximately 215,000 jobs since the beginning of 2009, according to the TechAmerica Foundation.

Fortunately, the TechAmerica Foundation believes that the worst of the economic downturn is over, noting that tech companies added 30,200 IT jobs in the first half of 2010.

Recovery or not, certain types of IT jobs will almost certainly disappear. If your email is in the cloud, for instance, you don’t need to keep an IT worker on staff whose sole task is keeping Exchange up and running. At the same time, IT automation and cloud computing are displacing low-level mundane IT jobs.

As Chris Weitz, Director of Deloitte Consulting, pointed out, over the past couple of decades, the trend in IT has also been for employees to specialize into niches. “You’re a Unix guy or a database administrator or a system administrator,” he said “That level of specialization is already fading away. The changing nature of IT demands a broader skill set.”

The quarterly IT Hiring Index and Skills Report from Robert Half Technology found that the IT skills most in demand right now are networking, information security and help desk/technical support.

Those skills, though, are ones that many organizations will outsource, if they haven’t already. According to Mark Popolano, former CIO at AIG and currently a Senior Advisor at Ineum Consulting, within five years, the typical CIO will only own about 25 percent of his or her IT workforce. The rest will be outsourced.

Obviously, this means that one important skill that you can acquire to protect your existing IT job is vendor management.

2. Knowledge workers say goodbye to the cubicle.

If you’ve read any of my previous cloud computing articles, you’ll know that I believe that one of the cloud’s biggest benefits will be boosting the capabilities of constrained devices. A smartphone that can access a range of applications via the cloud becomes a mini-PC.

For security pros, these mini-PCs are a boon, much better than laptops and even netbooks. “The key from a security standpoint is that cloud-based applications are accessed through the browser,” said Rajen Sheth, group product manager for Google Apps. “Smartphones don’t store data locally, so if employees lose them, they’re not putting sensitive information at risk.”

IT will be able to shake off concerns about data privacy, but they’ll need solid identity management solutions in place. Once they do, workers will no longer be compelled to sit in the office in order to access key data and applications. Telecommuting, virtual offices and mobility will all trend upward on the cloud.

3. Social networking becomes business critical.

It’s not only IT workers who must cope with social media, but pretty much every knowledge worker. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are all standard marketing and business-development tools.

Of course, plenty of managers worry that social networking is draining productivity. Actually, the opposite is true, according to Shail Khiyara, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Taleo, a provider of on-demand talent management solutions.

“One of our customers found that social networking greatly boosted productivity throughout the company,” he said. “What happens is that social networking strengthens your ecosystem. We’ve seen this ourselves. We make social networking a key part of our own ecosystem. As a result, we’ve learned tons about what really matters to our customers.”

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Tags: cloud computing, Cloud, virtualization cloud, Cloud network, IT Jobs/Salary

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