Monday, December 12, 2011

Staffing and Technology Shift

I'm giving a lot of thought to the change drivers that I've written about and the impact on staffing, organizational portfolio, and professional development.  We need to make sure that our staffs are ready, and our IT organizations are structured, to handle the technological changes and shifts that we are experiencing.

The technological changes are affecting our organization in several different ways:

  • We analyzed the announced platform shift for Banner, the growth of apps, and the changing enterprise systems portfolio.  We need developer/integrators with strong Java skills, an understanding of REST-based services, and ready to learn things like Groovy and Grails.  PL/SQL skills seem to be fading in need.
  • We need network engineers who understand wireless density management, VLAN management and edge device management.  Our network engineers must add strong understanding of VOIP to their skill sets.
  • We need systems engineers who can handle the growing systems architecture around huge storage environments.  Systems engineers need to understand that storage may be a blend of in-sourced and outsourced solutions, and they need to work and manage growth in that environment.  The best systems and systems architecture engineers will understand end-to-end services:  where do data start, how are they moved, how are they edited, and how are they transmitted over the network.  It isn't enough to tell someone "Yes, you can store that 5 gig file here."  The best systems engineer will ask "How does that file get here?  Once it is stored, what do you intend to do with it? What are the bandwidth implications?  What are the security implications?"  We need to provide strong assistance on selecting appropriate storage locations.
  • We will see more of the BYOD environment.  On the services side, we need to be ready to react to consumer-driven decisions that we cannot control.  For example, we are trying to plan and implement changes now that will avoid network connectivity issues for Christmas-gift Kindle Fires when these come to campus in January.  
  • We also need to think about new services for this environment.  What about a new service such as "App Finder"?  You tell us what you need in an app, and our service operation will research options for you.  How about "Energy Advisor"?  We provide services around analyzing energy use, ranging from planning for charging stations to analyzing the power management for all aspects of IT.  How about "Mobile Security Specialist," so we can assist with all aspects of working securely in a mobile environment?
These changes are pervasive throughout the IT organization.  How are you looking at this in terms of staff implications?  Our initial responses are:
  • Identified training plans for all professional staff members and developed a projected training budget.  We expect our training budget needs to increase by almost 50% this year.  We are reallocating funding originally targeted for technology upgrades to staff training and development.
  • Reallocating funding for consulting on specific projects involving new technologies to make sure we get started in the right direction.
  • We started a monthly meeting with our University Human Resources to discuss HR aspects of this changing environment.  This part is proving to be very challenging.  Part of this may be the very different focuses of HR and IT organizations, but we seem to have very different value structures.  
Please do share any insights or great ideas as you explore these changes.  My next post will be more on the HR challenges.