Monday, September 30, 2013

Generalists and generational shifts.

It's always interesting to consider what makes us successful in our IT careers.

Rob Whiteley (formerly of Forrester) gives his impressions about specialization in the industry. He argues that we need to become more generalists than specialists, perhaps reversing a trend towards specialization in IT that has been going on for decades.
But what does that mean for compensation?

If highly specialized jobs are being off-shored, outsourced and replaced by cloud based applications; then should we anticipate that salaries will decline for these new 'generalist' IT staffers? The story sounds a lot like going from being an electrician to manning the electrical supplies aisle at Home Depot.

In 2003 Nicholas Carr argued that "IT Doesn't Matter", and is essentially becoming a commodity. Others refute that idea, preferring to tout the 'business advantage' of IT. (Which for us IT people means we need to step up to the plate and become full partners in bringing change to our businesses. Oh and educating mahogany row...)

Another side of consumerization - over time it is certainly true that our younger generation needs less basic training to work with systems. But anyone who runs a help desk will tell you that today's VPs are not yet wizards with their computers, and need a lot of help. 

In the 80's and 90's we pushed the corner office to use their equipment to do their own typing and correspondence. It was a hard transition for many who did not have basic keyboarding skills. I can recall one sales guy for example... Well, he was a sweetheart but had a tough time with submitting reports via email!

As an IT generalist, I don't believe that expanding our knowledge (becoming broad in knowledge) will reduce our compensation - because the level of confusion around strategy is greater than ever. And it takes a generalist to see the forest for the trees.

So, here's to generalists and generational shifts!

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