December 13, 2000, 9:04 AM — WILL THE DAWN of a new century be accompanied by the birth of radical new perks
for IT professionals or a leveling off of compensation as the stock market stumbles?
And how will trends such as the increasing use of telecommuting and the elimination
of middle management affect IT professionals' careers?
It depends on whom you ask.
Some industry observers believe rising IT compensation may force companies to offer
novel forms of noncash compensation to retain workers.
James Canton, president of the San Francisco-based consultancy Institute for Global
Futures and author of the book Technofutures, sees IT workers as having the leverage to
demand even more money and perks from employers in the future. Among the likely perks:
demanding where you want to live and in what country you will be paid.
"Today there is a big shortage of IT talent, and I see that increasing dramatically
in the next three to five years, so that competition for IT talent becomes even more
fierce," Canton says. "That means IT folks will be paid more, will get more stock, and
will have a lot more advantages in terms of lifestyle and work style."
For example, in order to retain workers, management may be forced to let them
operate their own small companies on the side, or to offer them perks "like allowing
them to live next year in Singapore or Italy, or giving them an opportunity to learn
about sales and marketing even though they are working in IT," Canton says. Workers
also might be able to demand that they be paid in a country that has no taxes or be
paid barter-style, with company resources such as supercomputing power that can be used
for an employee's personal business projects.
Others are betting on more mundane noncash incentives. IT will move away from
throwing money at people and will concentrate on creating an engaging workplace with
personalized financial rewards, according to Jay Schuster and Patricia Zingheim,
partners at the Los Angeles-based compensation consulting company Schuster Zingheim and
Associates, as well as co-authors of the books The New Pay and Pay People Right.
"You'll see more project and team incentives that have more to do with what
employees directly affect in IT. It's much more meaningful than the same amount of
money based on company performance," Zingheim says.
But some observers believe that IT pay won't continue to go up indefinitely.