If there's one thing that stands out in Computerworld's Annual IT Salary Survey, it's the gaps:
The gap between the growing importance of services based on information technology and worsening treatment of the people that deliver them; the gap between those treated as stars and those who have to prove every day they're not dead weight; the gap between those who are paid increasingly well for their skills and those whose pay and prospects have deteriorated steadily as the most highly valued work continues to go to contractors, SAAS or cloud providers or a very few e-commerce or data specialists in-house.
Also note the gap in pay and changes in pay between top managers and the rest of the workforce:
During the past year people with all seven of the Senior Management job titles got raises – averaging about 2.2 percent – half again the average for IT overall.
Among people with staff or entry level job titles, fewer than a third got raises of 2.2 percent or higher. Most got almost nothing, or actually lost ground.
More than half said they are underpaid for their responsibilities, 60 percent said they've stayed flat or lost ground financially during the past two years and 86 percent said they feel more pressure to take on more tasks and more responsibility.
No wonder the number saying they're satisfied with their compensation is 10 percent lower this year than last, and the number saying they're less satisfied with their jobs now than they were a year ago dropped 15 percent.
IT people are not happy and the economic recovery – what there is of it – has not begun to benefit any but a very select group, whose good fortune is likely to create more dissatisfaction in the ranks of those who already feel dissatisfaction from the disrespect.
It's not just Computerworld numbers saying that, either.
In Silicon Valley, among IT vendors and within specific job functions, the pickings are much easier, outlook is brighter and treatment is much better.
Everywhere else, IT is turning into a grind of scutwork and thanklessness, dead-ended by managers who send the most interesting work to outside companies or contractors, and career paths darkened by the need to keep legacies running, users working and the lights turned on.
IT hiring analysts predict a huge migration of techies from their present jobs to (still theoretical) new ones as soon as the economy allows it. So far that doesn't look possible.
If it happens, a lot of companies are going to find themselves in a tight spot, trying to make the routine continue to happen as the people who keep the wheels turning suddenly disappear.
If it doesn't, and the compensation and treatment of the bulk of IT people doesn't improve, IT will become a darker, less productive, less innovative place.