Gartner: IT Staff to Shrink 15% by 2010

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The number of IT staffers may shrink by 15 percent within five years, according to a new report.

Analysts at Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based industry analyst firm, say by 2010 the number of IT staff in the profession will drop by 15 percent due to the 'accelerating capabilities of external service providers and the increasing need for IT services'. And they also predict that by 2010, six out of 10 people affiliated with the IS organisation will assume business-facing roles around information, process and relationships.

Gartner analysts are advising IT leaders to figure out this year if the future of their departments lies in bringing information technology services to their business units, or if it lies in offering strategic value to the overall business.

''The IS organisation will need to either reinvent itself to create and manage assets of business processes and relationships, or it must choose to focus on the sourcing and execution of IT services,'' says John Mahoney, worldwide chief of research for IT services and management at Gartner. ''Our advice to IS leaders is that although they have some very difficult decisions to make over the fate of their department, they need to act now as the transition will take a number of years.''

Mahoney says IT staffers will have to deal with the competitive pressures of external service providers who will be able to offer standards for professionalism and price that internal workers may find hard to match.

And he adds that those external pressures will only grow.

As IT becomes increasingly involved with business functions, the number of people outside the IT organization who have a hand in IT's work will grow. Mahoney also says that as IT skills become more ingrained in business, in-house IT staff will be displaced.

''As we see departments within businesses taking on the traditional functions of IT, so IS professionals and leaders will have to choose between careers as technologists, technical managers and business professionals,'' says David Flint, research vice president at Gartner. ''To ensure the quality of their work, organisations will need to establish 'profession management' for selected roles across the whole business. The end result will see many former IS employees in professions in which their manager or head of profession does not sit within IS.''

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