Mobility, agility, and IT staffing at Interop

Walking around Interop Las Vegas 2012, I can see the future unfold before my eyes. Beyond the flashing lights and the matching polo shirts, it’s clear that staffing IT positions in the future will be a challenge.

Why? There are so many companies jumping on one bandwagon or another, or touting things that are faster, better, compact, easy, and mobile, that the choices for a CIO, CTO, or IT manager are abundant and varied.

The problem is that a company will need a new set of skills once its CIO or IT manager changes course, adds a new system or technology, or changes the IT infrastructure. However easy the new system might be, the technology still needs to be set up, maintained, or upgraded by qualified IT staff.

I can see why some companies have trouble forecasting or don’t revisit their staffing plans often. If they did, they might be shocked to find that they need more people and different skills every time they look.

Here are a few more observations from the show:

One of my favorite lines that I’ve heard a few times is “We are the only … ” followed by how the speaker’s company is the only company that does this or has that capability. True or not, some IT person will ultimately sign up for the service or buy the product, and it will be up to the buyer to make it fit into his or her organization. And again, it probably will require new or different skills.

Service is another theme at Interop. Many companies are in the cloud or using software as a service (SaaS). The benefit of these technologies is that they reduce the need for a large physical IT infrastructure. However, I can’t help but wonder how much of what the companies are selling is more in their heads than in the cloud. It gives new perspective to the term vaporware.

Mobility is everywhere you look at Interop. Everyone wants you to be able to access your data, interact with others, or perform a transaction with your portable device. The focus on mobility is funny only because while we are surrounded by booths touting mobility, we still had trouble getting a Wi-Fi signal at our booth.

On another note, our booth is right next to BlackBerry’s. The company’s booth is the same size as ours (relatively small, approximately 10 feet by 20 feet) and not well trafficked. I didn’t really think about it until the second day, but that’s not a great sign for BlackBerry.

However, the BlackBerry booth is a good example of how an IT skill can be in demand and seem like it will never go away one day, and the next day people are talking about the skill’s demise. It also shows how IT staffing plans have to be agile and ready for anything, whether the trend is coming or going.

Interop is a great show for all things IT. But to me the event is a perfect illustration of how, while smart people can come up with great technology, it still takes a whole bunch of smart people to make the technology work.


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