In this poll about IT employment, I asked how the number of IT pros in your organization has changed in the last four years, mostly because I was interested to find out if Nicholas Carr's claim, that IT doesn't or won't matter, can be measured.
The results are somewhat surprising to me. More than 1,000 4sysops readers took part in this poll. At the time of this writing, 36% said that the number of IT pros decreased, 34% said that the number of IT pros increased, 20% said that the number of IT pros didn’t change, and 10% didn’t know whether the number changed or not. (Note that these numbers can change again; see my comments below.)
According to this result, IT employment shrunk by 2% in the last four years. This doesn’t really surprise me. However, what I find amazing is that after I launched the poll, about 60% of the 4sysops readers claimed that more IT pros are now working in their organization. The numbers were stable for a while, and then they suddenly changed in favor of the more pessimistic view.
I noticed in former polls that regular 4sysops readers often vote differently compared to those visitors who come from search engines. (I always place the poll in the sidebar, so it is visible on all 4sysops pages.) However, never before was the difference so huge.
The only explanation I have is that 4sysops subscribers are more likely to work in expanding organizations. This probably is not particularly related to 4sysops, but it has to do with the fact that admins who regularly read IT blogs are more ambitious than those IT pros who just use the Web to solve a certain problem. I think ambitious people are more interested in learning about new fields that are not directly related to their current work than those who just want to get their work done. And ambitious people work more often in ambitious, expanding companies.
Nevertheless, 1,000 votes are statistically significant by far. So can we conclude that Nicholas Carr and other IT adversaries are right? Does IT matter less than four years ago, which allows organizations to lay off IT pros?
I don’t think so. First of all, considering the worldwide economic turmoil we have seen in the last few years, it is conceivable that IT, as a major cost factor for many organizations, also had to suffer. However, since the unemployment rate in the US increased by about 4% in the last four years, IT employment was less affected than other professions. The situation in Europe is not much different than in the US. I guess that in emerging markets such as China, India, or Brazil, the number of IT pros increased even in these difficult economic times. But 4sysops only has a few readers in those countries and their votes didn’t have a significant effect on the poll results.
One thing is for sure. According to the 4sysops poll, the overall percentage of IT pros in the working population increased in the last four years by about 2%. Thus I conclude that IT matters more now for most organizations because the contribution of the IT department has increased compared to other departments. Recent numbers even indicate that IT employment in the US grows again slightly, even though the second largest economy (behind the EU) didn’t master the crisis yet.
In my next post, I will go one better and claim not just that IT matters but that only IT will matter. Stay tuned!