December 13, 2000, 9:29 AM — DAVID RUSSO CHAIRS the human resources technology management committee for the
Society for Human Resources Management, in Alexandria, Va. He also is vice president of
human resources at the SAS Institute, in Cary, N.C.
InfoWorld: What do you see as the main compensation and management issues for IT in
Russo: One is that most people in IT get a bang out of working on the latest and
hottest stuff, but most organizations need people to work with their legacy-type
software. As a result, companies will have to offer premium pay for legacy skills. I
think a minority of companies are doing it now, but most companies are starting to feel
the pinch that will lead them to do it.
Another issue will be the need for flatter and more highly mobile IT workforces.
That means that IT people are going to have a lot more opportunity to move within their
own organizations than before. Somebody with database skills could certainly move into
customer relations management, or someone with knowledge-management skills could move
into data mining. What we're seeing is a breakdown of the silos of expertise so that
more and more of the same skills are being used by different operations within the
InfoWorld: These trends sound good for IT people. Is there any downside?
Russo: While I don't see any negatives for IT people, there are some good-news/bad-
One is that, while IT people will get paid more in the future, the expectations of
their performance will be higher. IT people are going to have to be involved in
business decision making. They are going to be expected to use their IT abilities to
add value to the company, rather than just be repositories of expertise. You hear a lot
being said about this today because everybody knows it's important, but you don't see
it happening very much because making it happen will be rigorous for an organization
and its IT folks.
Another issue is that a flatter hierarchical management structure in IT will be
both good and bad. While this is good for IT people because they can be more
independent, it is bad because that independence will have to be focused on the large
goals of the corporation rather than on the little technical goals that IT people may
have. More people are going to be expected to behave as their own boss and to add value
to the company themselves rather than as part of an organization.
As part of this, IT managers are going to be depended upon more for personal and
technical leadership rather than for the management of the people who report to them.
This will be good for the IT managers who like that, but bad for managers who like
delegating responsibility and controlling people resources.