Boomer Retirement And IT - Are You An Ostrich, Chicken-little, Or an Owl?

The rock-band R.E.M. sang a song about the "end of the world as we know it" and to hear some people talk - the end is near! 

The Chicken-littles of the world would have us believe that retiring Baby Boomers will wreak untold havoc. Half the world's population will suddenly disappear from the workforce - collapsing world markets, straining national pension systems to the breaking point, and burdening younger generations with unmanageable national debt.

Other folks are at the opposite end of the spectrum - they're in denial, like ostriches with their heads deep in the sand - if they don't look at how bad the problem is, it can't hurt them, right? No staffing problems here - look we can still hire people, let's deal with today's problems and not go looking for tomorrow's troubles!

Those of you who were involved in IT during the Year 2000 issue in the late 1990s heard way too much hype from Ostriches and Chicken-littles. Remember, COBOL programmers were predicted to be commanding thousands of dollars an hour, spurring legions of retirees to come back to the workforce? Yeah well, if that REALLY happened, I'd have gone back to COBOL coding and earned enough to retire in Tahiti by now. True, there were some shortages, some public glitches and other glitches that were kept buried for the bad press they would otherwise create - especially in financial services. But net/net, the prudent management of resources got us through January 1st, 2000 with comparatively little pain - the wisdom of the owls won out.

Sensing that we're at the start of another bruhaha, I spent a good deal of last quarter sourcing data for my report on global workforce planning - which was just recently published. While it dispells much of the hype, it also serves as a call to action. I'd love to hear about the issue from the minds in the blogosphere and Twitterati - in your opinion, is this a pressing issue or just another sound-byte for IT? (pun intended)

On a scale of 1 to 5 - with 5 being "Very large" and 1 being "None"  - please answer 3 questions:

1) Do you believe Boomer retirement will impact your IT organization significantly in the coming 5 years?

2) What is the level of activity in your firm to mitigate the impact of Boomer Retirement?

3) Do you believe Boomer retirement will impact your business significantly in the coming 5 years? (impact to non-IT staff and business volume).


re: Boomer Retirement And IT - Are You An Ostrich, Chicken-litt

Phil, I am a boomer myself ...But as a software architect who has to look ahead and figure out what customers and users want I can't wait for the 3270 green screen boomer generation to retire.It will allow for the acceptance of a new application paradigm. Those stepping up to the plate will not hesite to dump the COBOL garbage and use modern tools to create modern mobile apps that will finally end the drama of IT as a todays business disabler. As it happens, the job of a business application programmer will disappear at the same time. My hope is that all the rigid-business-process pundits will retire too.Yes, boomer retirement will impact all kinds businesses significantly - technology will finally enable new ways of running a business.

re: Boomer Retirement And IT - Are You An Ostrich, Chicken-litt

WOW Max, that's a lot of pent-up COBOL anger. *;-)Mea culpa - I'm a boomer myself - class of 1957. On a more serious note, I understand the catalyst for your remarks - a modern uniform technical environment would greatly ease the pain caused by heterogeneous environments.I'm going to separate these two discussions - one for folks' opinions on Boomer retirement, and I'll post a new blog entry on COBOL's useful life. I view the two as related, but separate topics.