After just proclaiming, a mere four days ago in The Top 10, Top Predictions for 2012, that I wouldn’t predict anything for 2012 and simply would repurpose other’s predictions, I offer this prognosis.

An area I have been thinking about recently is the availability of IT personnel, or lack thereof in 2012.  It began with a conversation with a F5 colleague and a simple premise:  Information Technology personnel seem to be in demand.  We have read stories to this effect, and even anecdotally realized that times are not that bad for IT careers, despite the financial crisis. Sure, many were laid off from failing startups or collapsing banks a couple years ago, but many seemed to get new jobs rather quickly, and many of us get a few job solicitations every month.

In researching the real statistics on IT unemployment (from Help Desk to System Admins to Developers to Business Analysts), we realized how much of an understatement the premise was:

Dice.com, May, 2011:  3.8% IT unemployment - 65% of hiring managers anticipated hiring more technology professions in 2H 2011, and 49% said they were paying more in salary this year than last year.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2011: 3.3% IT unemployment – Expects IT employment to grow ‘much faster than the average of all occupations’ through 2018. 

Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 9th, 2011: 3.3% IT unemployment - Information Security Analyst unemployment: ZERO.  Network Architect unemployment:  0.2%

Consider that the economy has not really recovered from the crash, and that many companies downsized or went out of business altogether.  5% unemployment is generally considered to be "full employment"; 3.3% is typically unhealthy for business growth.  When our economy gets through this difficult period, where are companies going to find IT workers?  But more specific, what does this mean? 

I think that operating expenses is going to be an increasingly difficult problem for everyone, in every industry.  Besides paying serious money to lure IT people away from other companies, employers are going to start paying serious money to protect the IT resources they already have.  When you are an IT manager, every system you consider for implementation has two costs – the upfront cost, and how much of a resource it will take to manage it, the classic CapEx and OpEx.  If you produce a solution that does not require additional headcount to manage, or actually reduces headcount, you can save OpEx for a lot of companies.  Even if ProductX costs $100k, that's only the price of one IT guy for one year.  And that price is going up day by day.

iApps in BIG-IP v11 is a great step toward reducing OpEx, and evening the bar of who and what knowledge is needed to deploy our solution.  Evening the bar of what skill set is needed is vitally important, because most companies can at least find some System Admins (2.8% unemployment) but may not find a Network Architect or InfoSec guy to implement the apps on the BIG-IP.  The WhiteHat integration with BIG-IP ASM is similarly great, especially to those who implement the solution.   Many organizations are unable to devote enough resources to managing a WAF, plus they can't find the InfoSec personnel anyway since their unemployment rate is ZERO and has been for a few years.  The integration allows those with minimal security experience the ability to build a solid web application security policy.  Often, simply feeling comfortable with an appliance is all that’s needed for IT staff to give it attention.

The coming or currently unfolding (?) IT HR crisis will matter to many organizations over the next few years.  Interestingly, while I was writing this, a tweet arrived asking, @wimremes: random thought : do you (still) rely on recruiters or do you use your own network to find the right people for a job?’  I’m really not sure exactly how it will play out but simply something to think about.

ps

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