The Economy and Outsourcing: LA Times
August 8, 2004
As economy turns, tech workers reboot
Market could brighten for information technology pros
Once upon a time, information technology was the nations hottest and most
promising job sector. But as in most fairy tales, nothing lasts forever.
Eventually, those IT employment titles that often dominated conversations about
new jobs during the 1990s began to fall from favor with both job seekers and
recruiters. Soon after, the money-losing ventures of the dot-com boom began to
become commonplace. By the time 2000 rolled around, the passing of a need for
tools and technology to combat Y2K worries led to a slip in the industry. But
many experts believe that's about to change.
In fact, popular opinion now suggests that the IT industry is poised for a
comeback assuming people are ready and willing to make necessary changes to
their skill set, as well as their expectations.
The IT market is rapidly improving and is nowhere near as bad as it was over the
past few years, says Jim Childs, CEO of Impact Innovations Group in Alpharetta,
Ga. I see a bright future for the IT job market.
Childs explains that once the accelerated demand for IT jobs began to slide,
corporate America just had indigestion with IT companies pulled back on IT
With the artificial high came the lowest of lows and the result was painful.
Today, however, as the economy continues to improve, companies are moving out of
their indigestion period and creating a new demand for the IT professional.
This new way of thinking makes it imperative that those currently looking to
embark on a career in IT are willing to adapt to these changes.
IT is currently undergoing a huge transformation and the people who see this and
take advantage of it will benefit, says Joe Santana, co-author of Manage I.T.
(Lahaska Press, $14.99). On the other hand, people planning for a career using
the old frame of reference will find it hard to market themselves.
According to Fitzgerald, those who focus on the service side of IT and have a
wide range of communication skills will find it easier to market themselves to
Its critically important to have business skills to augment your technical
skills now, Fitzgerald says. With the development of HTML, Front Page and
Dreamweaver, you don't need to be a coder anymore to write programs. With the
Internet, you can go online and cut and paste software code to make a program do
what you want it to do. Because of this, IT workers will need to be business and
The biggest goal for IT professionals will be to help people and businesses
integrate new technology into their lives.
Well see more companies take the responsibility and say, Well handle all the
integration for you, says Fitzgerald.
Bruce Fenton, founder of Atlantic Financial, Inc., an Internet investment firm
in Westboro, Mass., says jobs moving overseas is one of two major concerns he
sees in the IT industry.
Major pressures on this sector are twofold, Fenton says. One is technology
replacing experts in other words, programs that can do the work of a dozen
programmers. And the other is foreign competition. As IT jobs have become easier
to replace, they are being sent to India and other areas.
While this has raised concerns in some corners of the industry, Childs feels the
entire situation is being overblown and receiving more attention than it
Offshoring can never fill the demand that the U.S. economy will create with new
IT jobs, Childs says. Even with China emerging and India as an established
power, you'll always have language, culture and space barriers.
In the United States, the need for people who truly understand the inner
workings of their business will be high. As a result, many of the jobs that end
up overseas will focus on development.
You'll see middle talent go offshore, but there will always be a high demand for
knowledgeable developers in the United States. The higher level jobs will stay
here, says Childs. Someone with business skills will make good money and be very
Marc Hebert is the executive vice president for Sierra Atlantic in Fremont,
Calif., which specializes in offshore services. He says that the IT jobs moving
overseas are generally less interesting than the ones that remain here.
Companies are keeping the most important IT jobs closer to home, Hebert says.
They're pushing off the stuff that's not critical and they're replacing it with
more mission critical jobs.
While the good old days of IT may have passed, opportunities will continue to
emerge for people who can adapt to the times.
There are huge opportunities for people who correctly take advantage of these
changes, says Santana. I don't think the industry is preparing a comeback to the
traditional way of doing business.
This advertising section did not involve the editorial staff of The Los Angeles