5 IT megatrends that are changing the project management profession

I love my job as a Project Manager and hope to be one for many years to come. Do you foresee any major changes in the Project Manager job market in future years?

Thanks for emailing me your question. It’s great to hear that you love your job and are being proactive to assure that you are professionally ready for the years ahead. You’re very fortunate to have found a job and a profession you enjoy and the forethought to maintain your future marketability. You’re an inspiration to us all.

My belief is that the role of Project Manager will continue to increase in importance in future years and the need for project managers within IT will increase in both stature and in numbers. My reason for this belief is that there are a number of long term IT megatrends that will increase the demand for professional project management including the following:

Cloud Computing Cloud computing is changing the Project Manager role in a number of ways. First, as companies continue to migrate internally developed software to SaaS based cloud alternatives, the ratio of Project Managers to Software Developers continues to increase because of the initiation of more projects and the reduction of internally developed software. Second, IT organizations that bring cloud technologies within their firewalls and develop private clouds will quickly recognize the need for seasoned Project Managers to help navigate these high visibility and wide reaching projects. Lastly, because cloud providers are vendors, the project management role will continue to evolve into the world of vendor management, Service Level Agreements (SLA’s), and contract negotiation.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) It sounds easy and budget reducing to just let everyone bring their own devices to work. From the outside it looks as though IT budgets can go down because they’re not buying as much computer hardware. Well, guess again. BYOD has dramatically increased the complexity of technical support provided by the IT Help Desk and the development of software for multi-platform use. From a Help Desk perspective, these BYOD complexities are causing the creation of new processes, multiple installation images, and enhanced security schemes. These activities all require complex project-based work and may, expand the need and use of Project Managers with the Help Desk function. Regarding the implementation of multi-platform based software, this additional project and technical complexity requires additional up-front planning, coordination, development, testing, and rollout. Therefore, smaller projects not seeming to need formal project management now do because of these additional complexities.

Server Consolidation and Virtualization Server consolidation within the datacenter could easily be described as a “project with a thousand parts”. High powered servers must be identified. Servers of lesser power, but with significant expansion potential, need to be identified and upgraded. Application software needs to be categorized both for usage and movability. Weaker and older servers need to be classified as low potential and marked for removal. Then with all this information in place, which is a large project in itself, a project plan must be created, approved, executed, monitored, and completed. This activity, as you may surmise, will require experienced project management skills, thus expanding the role of Project Managers within the datacenter.

Social Media The introduction of content-based marketing and social medial analytics is bringing together internal business functions that have historically not had much interaction. The poster child for this phenomenon is the new-found relationship between Marketing and IT. Historically, the only two places IT and Marketing would really interact would be due to Marketing’s need for high end PCs (or Macs) and printing capabilities to create marketing material. Today, IT and Marketing are virtually connected at the hip on items such as website design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), press release distribution, blog posting and distribution, automated Twitter postings. These activities, as you may expect, require intense coordination between groups with real shared history and in many cases don’t understand what each other does. This is the perfect environment for social media savvy IT knowledgeable Project Managers to step in and maximize the effectiveness of these new business processes.

Big Data Big data is still very much in its infancy and its uses are continuing to expand. • Software development efforts are now being moved to Hadoop-based technologies. • GPS data is being collected and analyzed like never before. • Textual based data, such as Tweets and LinkedIn Discussion Boards, are being analyzed for consumer trends, political leanings, company competitive advantage, and countless other uses. • The current and expanded uses are endless.

These activities, like social media, are not only bringing IT and Marketing closer together, they are also creating new job types, such as the role of Data Scientist. From a project management perspective, these big data initiatives require multi-discipline coordination, the implementation of new technologies, the creation of new processes and business relationships, and in many ways are as much a science project as a new business initiative. Who better to move these types of projects forward than a professional project manager.

In closing, I believe we are truly entering a new and exciting time for Project Managers, be opportunistic, hang on and enjoy the ride.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to build your professional brand.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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