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Posted by Stephen Mann on August 13, 2012
At our core we are “IT people” (hopefully you are shouting at your screen, “No, I'm a business person!” but please bear with me), so it is all too easy for us to look at the future of IT service delivery purely from a technology perspective; that is, to be absorbed by the opportunities and challenges such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD), mobility, social, shiny SaaS ITSM tools, and cloud per se.
For instance, my colleague Glenn O’Donnell can often be heard saying that “the future of service management is an automated one,” and, unless you have access to the report from which I lifted this quote (and much of this blog), it is too easy to forget about how the “yellow brick road” to the future affects our people. Glenn’s report covers this in some detail, and I have politely stolen some of it to include below.
Looking at the future from an employee perspective = fear
Many employees fear automation — not only is it change, it is change that potentially affects their livelihood. But it’s nothing new: Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the “A word” has conjured up rebellion by those who are vulnerable to replacement by machines. Throughout history, however, the Luddites have lost their battles against progress, and they will lose again. The economic, operational, and business-enablement benefits of IT automation are too strong for such opponents to resist.
When you automate any job, there's a high likelihood that the “machinery” will reduce dependence on humans for that job and maybe even eliminate the humans altogether. Some sourcing models, like cloud, apply here too. Consequently, some IT roles will diminish in numbers and possibly even disappear altogether. Anything that can qualify as “intellectual grunt work” is subject to decline — as it should be.
So how will automation affect staffing?
Many of the affected jobs are administrator positions that today are improperly staffed. Instead of using the technical talent to its best potential, much of this work is indeed intellectual grunt work. Forrester predicts a dramatic decline in infrastructure administrator (e.g., server, network, storage) positions through 2015. They won't disappear completely, but the work will shift, with the routine functions moving to automated systems and the creative technology development migrating to more of an engineering function instead of an operational function.
The key issue to understand in this labor shift is that the same forces that are eroding some jobs will fuel new ones, and Glenn predicts that the hottest infrastructure and operations (I&O) jobs of the next five years will be the:
What it means
For the individual: If you work in a position that is subject to decline or obsolescence, embrace the force; don't fight it. Be the automator, not the automated! Who better to automate your job than you? Be the change, not a victim of it.
For I&O decision-makers: The future is already here — maybe not with you, but take a look at what the competition is doing. So plan for and start to execute on automation now, AND also make sure you are reflecting business, process, and technology change in your people. Not doing so will be futile on a number of levels. P.S. don’t forget the customer in all this people, process, and technology change. If a change doesn’t positively affect a customer, why are you doing it?
Finally, credit where credit is due
The majority of this content is a small extract from Glenn’s “Become Customer-Centric, Service-Focused, And Automated” report, which is the “Future Look” report in the Forrester Service Management And Automation Playbook.
If you enjoyed this, please read my latest blog: http://blogs.forrester.com/stephen_mann
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