While Cloud Computing has long been identified as the next big development in IT, it seems we are finally on the verge of its boom and the impact on IT recruitment will be huge. According to Microsoft, cloud related employment will more than double in the next three years, reaching 14 million jobs worldwide by 2015. Understanding the challenges this will pose to IT professionals will be vital to recruiters. The impact on contracts, on skills, the differences between countries and in the long term, the impact on international recruitment markets will be key to gaining the edge on the competition.
Cloud computing is the storing of information centrally rather than locally and accessed via the internet. For businesses, it will reduce start-up costs due to the lack of expensive hardware, and allow for cost efficiencies. Studies have concluded that most companies plan to reinvest this money back into IT, hiring more staff to create more efficient IT systems – a virtuous circle and good news for companies like ours. The growth in roles will be significant around the world, with 7.3m cloud related jobs predicted to be created in the BRIC countries by 2015. In the UK cloud related employment will more than double to 226,864, and in the US, grow by two thirds to 1.1 million.
This international boom will see subtle differences in how cloud manifests itself in different countries, depending on the size of its companies and their rate of cloud adoption. In the US for example, cloud is already well advanced beyond the initial stage of patchwork adoption, with 12% of IT professionals reporting that cloud currently accounts for more than half their business according to Greythorn research. Such is the competition and the value placed on cloud expertise by large companies, IT is moving away from the tendency towards consultancy work. Ben Weber, Managing Director of our stateside office - Greythorn US explains, "The war for talent is such that firms are bringing cloud expertise in-house rather than contracting for it. Many companies are developing their own clouds currently and want to secure top tier IT talent for themselves so they can steal a march on their rivals, rather than allow their expertise to be shared. This is driving huge appetite for senior software engineers who can work with large amounts of data.”
In the UK however, regular candidate movement will be much more of a feature of cloud recruitment. The UK is slightly behind the US, with just 2% of IT professionals currently reporting that cloud represents more than half their business. Cloud is still in the phase of development where companies adopt cloud technologies at different rates and there are fewer corporations of the size that enables them to create their own clouds. Cloud experts will therefore find the best money lies in consulting, and recruiters placing candidates in the UK will have to respond to this prevailing trend, identifying and sourcing candidates flexible enough to work intensively for shorter periods of time in the early days of adoption.
Working culture also plays a role in this. There is a protectionist stance against outsourcing in the US which means it is less of a feature of the general labour market. In contrast, smaller companies and larger public projects in Europe mean outsourcing is historically much more a part of business. Our research on both sides of the Atlantic found that IT professionals in the US are twice as likely as their UK counterparts to predict that cloud will result in more permanent contracts. This relatively subtle cultural difference between two similar countries will be magnified between countries with more diverse working cultures, stages of development and even languages. Recruiters must understand the wider variations between recruitment markets and cultures if they are to thrive from cloud – particularly the impact on skills.
The skills required by cloud are one of the fundamental changes for IT recruiters to manage – and these will vary between countries. Some will be vital worldwide - software expertise, for example, and the ability to build apps that can run quickly on the internet. Security is also a huge issue - indeed one of the main problems larger companies have is concerns about data protection and sensitive data being effectively stored offsite. An understanding of security protocols will be vital and professionals will need a knowledge of data handling laws across jurisdictions.
However, other skills will be more specific to individual countries. In countries that follow the contractor model like the UK, project management skills will be vital especially in the start-up phase. As cloud is not constrained by any physical limitations, the potential for ‘mission creep’ is significant and IT professionals must be able to agree goals and timeframes, managing clients’ expectations to achieve these on time and on budget. In countries that follow the US model of in-house hiring, strategic vision will be much more of an important skill. Identifying how savings can be reinvested to upgrade and improve IT services to provide most value to a business will be an important skill. Likewise, communication skills which are not always what is expected of IT workers are vital to making the case for cloud and reinvestment to the management.
Sourcing IT professionals with these wider skillsets will be crucial for IT recruiters. We need to be educating candidates of these requirements now, rather than waiting for the boom to begin, as those that don’t, risk finding themselves significantly behind the curve.
In the longer term, cloud will mean that recruitment in IT is less geographically bound. Clients will be more focussed on the fundamentals – speed of delivery and price – than the location of the recruiter and even the location of the candidate themselves will become less important. The result will be beneficial for recruitment companies as their markets will be governed less by boundaries and will be beneficial for clients as their candidate pool will be equally unbound. While differences will remain between jurisdictions in terms of data protection laws and compliance, as well as subtler differences in working culture, recruiters stand to benefit by making inroads into emerging markets which are undergoing the switch to life in the cloud.