Gartner has released a report with 2011 IT predictions, and one of the things they say is that all this DevOps (they don’t use the word) automation stuff will certainly lead to job cuts – “By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25 percent of labor hours associated with IT services “.
That seems like the general “oh any technical innovation will take all our jobs” argument. Except for factory line workers, it hasn’t been the case – despite no end of technical innovations over the last 30 years, demand for IT has done nothing but increase hugely over time.
Heck, one of the real impediments to DevOps is that most larger shops are so massively underinvested in ops that there’s no way for ops teams to meaningfully collaborate on projects with devs – 100 devs with 50 live projects working with a 5 person ops team, how can you bring value besides at a very generic level? I see automation as a necessary step to minimize busywork to allow ops to more successfully engage with the dev teams and bring their expertise to actual individual efforts.
They act like there’s a bunch of shops out there that employ 100 mostly unskilled guys that just wander around and move files around all day, and were it not for the need to kickstart Linux would be selling oranges on the roadside. That’s not the case anywhere I’ve ever been.
Did we need fewer programmers as we moved from assembly to C to Java because of a resulting reduction in labor hours? Hell no. Maybe one day, decades from now, IT will be a zero growth industry and we’ll have to worry about efficiency innovations cutting jobs. But that time certainly isn’t now, and generally I would expect Gartner to be in touch with the industry enough to understand that.
4 responses to “They’re Taking Our Jobs!”
It is really interesting that there continues to be a “the jobs are falling” that cyclically strikes the industry. Sometimes we blame other countries like India for taking all our jobs and sometimes we blame technology. IT spending might dip in some areas, but to say that the industry will go down due to it is short sighted. Will small businesses be able to acquire IT services that are more automated and standardized for a lower price than today in 5 years? Yes. Will there be greater need for more custom applications, solution implementation and basically more technology needs in 5 years than today? Yes.
Until we can honestly say that in 5 years we will be using less technology than we are using today can we actually predict a downturn in the industry. Every year technology needs grow and people that know how to program, implement, manage and sell new technology will be in demand.
I don’t actually think that you and Gartner are saying anything different… in the same report they are talking about a sixty percent increase in IT spending per head, so I think it’s pretty clear they see the industry as a whole continuing to expand. At the same time, it is getting more efficient… so fewer labor hours required per service unit (which is pretty much exactly what you are saying when you note that it “eliminate(s) the busywork”). It’s entirely possible to have both increasing efficiency and overall jobs growth at the same time.
I didn’t read the prediction as being all that controversial. It seems to me that it’s exactly what we are offering businesses when we talk up the advantages of agile.
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