The future does not look bright for IT

The future does not look bright for IT

Big changes are afoot if the IT industry is to survive and develop in the next few years, but how best to go about it?

Business technology is going to the dogs, in a metaphorical sense rather than a racing greyhounds kind of way.

In just a couple of years, analyst Gartner says more than a third of all projects will be driven by a need to deal with technology or skills obsolescence.

Dale Vecchio, research vice president at Gartner, says chief information officers are struggling because most resources will need to be retired or replaced by 2015.

It sounds like a case of “good luck technology leaders” as IT bosses are forced to approach the chief executive with an extended wish list in the middle of a downturn.

So, is there an alternative? Is there an answer to the woes that mean most systems and technology skills are about to be rendered worse than useless?

Gartner says the solution lies in IT modernisation, a strategy that technology management teams must place at the core of their 2008 objectives.

The analyst defines technology modernisation as a movement that includes approaches to managing the evolution of business processes. The objective of such strategies is to achieve best value, cost and risk.

For technology leaders, four key areas of change will be crucial: more agility, increased integration of systems, modern solutions to business needs and fast reactions to the skills crisis.

Well-versed readers might see the above and experience déjà vu: how many times can IT leaders be told that business needs and skills obsolescence are crucial issues?

Not nearly enough, would appear to be Gartner’s message ­ – with the analyst suggesting that up to 30 per cent of workers who understand mission-critical, legacy systems could retire during the next five years.

With sector skills council e-Skills UK recently revealing that 140,000 new technology staff will be needed annually for the next five years, maybe businesses will start looking for thousands of legacy specialists?

Not if Computing’s letters page is anything to go by, with an anonymous writer in last week’s paper suggesting three years of Cobol development work has cut off many career choices.

While the answer to obsolescence might be modernisation, the legacies of decision making are likely to create significant challenges for UK IT professionals.