2012: the outlook for IT managers
IT's "squeezed middle" will focus more on the business in 2012.
Middle managers have born the brunt of cutbacks in IT departments over the last decade, as companies have looked to reduce their technology overheads and staffing levels.
IT managers are having to contend with a more complicated technical landscape, as well as a greater focus on project management, and work that directly affects the business.
But within leaner and more flexible IT operations, skilled managers can still fund interesting work, and command good salaries. This is especially true in "hot" technology areas, such as mobile. A recent survey by ReThink Recruitment, for example, found that managers with three years' experience in running mobile projects can earn 600 a day.
As with IT professionals, however, IT managers are having to contend with a more complicated technical landscape, as well as a greater focus on project management, and work that directly affects the business.
As the bridge between the operational IT staff in areas such as support and on helpdesks and the strategic leadership of IT directors, COOs and CIOs the IT manager is tasked with managing this complexity. IT managers are also the primary interface between the business, and IT, and are also likely to be the main liaison with external providers of IT services.
That structurally more complicated IT organisation is going hand in hand with a more complex IT landscape. "Over the last 15 years, IT managers have been told that simplification is good," says Philip Hopley of h2 Index, an IT management research company.
"Suddenly, we have to get used to a situation where there is an enormous variation in hardware that needs central control and governance, if you are to keep costs down." Employees are now likely to want support for a personal Mac or tablet, as well as for the corporate PC, he says.
Managing those demands mean shifting the mentality of the IT department, towards service rather than managing hardware and software. A catalogue approach to IT services or equipment is one approach that is proving successful for a number of organisations tackling the consumerisation of IT, Hopley suggests.