Mobility's Effect on Tech Hiring

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I don't write about IT staffing as much as I used to. Much of that coverage is now being ably handled by my colleague Susan Hall. But I'll be hitting this topic more than usual this week as Susan is on vacation. A Boston.com interview with Forrester Research COO Charles Rutstein hits on several of the IT staffing megatrends that have begun to emerge in the past year or so, that both Susan and I have written about in our blogs.


Perhaps Rutstein's most interesting point is that while companies are allocating more funding to hiring, it's not necessarily going to the IT organization. Instead, he says, companies are coming around to the idea that they can get big productivity gains by allowing employees to use their own devices, often smartphones. Says Rutstein:

When I walk into my office with an iPad or an iPhone, it's mine. I own it. I've self-provisioned it. And, by and large, it doesn't require that I contact my company's chief information officer to use it. These devices all represent technology spending, and they improve my productivity, but they don't necessarily represent more money for the IT shop.

True, we've heard about employee-owned technology before. (Here's a nearly four-year-old post from IT Business Edge contributor Rob Enderle to prove it.) But in 2011 the trend appears to be gaining real momentum.


There's a growing body of powerful mobile devices. It's tablets as well as smartphones. And does anyone doubt we'll see more emerging form factors in the coming months? In addition, 4G wireless networks are growing and will provide added bandwidth that will make it easier to use these devices for work-related tasks beyond lightweight applications like e-mail. And business users are just generally more comfortable taking technology matters into their own hands.


Rutstein believes companies that are comfortable with the idea of employee-owned technology are doing more hiring than their more skittish counterparts. Rather than hiring IT staff, they are hiring tech-savvy business folks who "can act almost like a shadow IT person and help push a lot of innovation." One example is Forrester itself, which expects a 15 to 20 percent uptick in hiring this year. This is because "... a lot of the dynamism and change is happening outside of the tech department."


The growth of these kinds of devices is also leading to a shift in demand for programming skills too. Rutstein says (and Susan has written) companies are looking for developers working on popular mobile platforms. Rutstein also mentions custom software development, mentioning the first package tracker from UPS and specialized apps from Apple and Amazon. My own prediction: Many of these custom apps will involve mobile devices. For an idea of what I mean, check out some of the iPad apps being tested by upscale furniture retailer Arhaus Furniture.

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