Talent wars: Are your IT staffers being poached?

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Competitors — and now cloud providers — are poaching your best IT staffers and job candidates.
Computerworld – Dan Herrington says his first inkling of a brewing IT talent war came early this spring, when he noticed that “college kids weren’t accepting our offers on the spot.”

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Nick Colisto, CIO at Hovnanian Enterprises, a home builder in Red Bank, N.J., puts it this way: “Twenty years ago, everyone wanted to work for IBM when they came out of college. As companies built larger systems, people switched off and went to work for large user companies. Now, with companies like Google, Amazon and LinkedIn, we’ll see a shift of IT resources back to technology companies.”

Colisto says what concerns him most are the cloud companies.

“Cloud computing is expected to go from around $68 billion in 2010 to over $100 billion by 2012. So, yes, I am concerned we’re going to find our infrastructure resources pilfered,” he says.

Minneapolis-based Medtronic is in what CIO Mike Hedges describes as IT “maintenance mode.” As a result, “we have had several people go. In some cases, people came to me [and said they had better job offers] and I could not match what they had been offered — in money or projects,” he says.

Hedges notes that Minneapolis is headquarters to Cargill, 3M and Target, all of which compete for the same IT talent. “Wherever there’s a lot of companies with large projects just getting ready to start, there’s definitely poaching going on,” he says.

“When you talk to CIOs, they’ll tell you they’re not poaching. They say that if people apply, they apply,” Hedges says. “But I know that when one or two people left Medtronic to go to other companies, what happens is they call their friends.”

In other words, when someone leaves for a better opportunity elsewhere, it’s likely that you’ll lose other staffers looking for the same opportunity, he says.
Where’s the Leading Edge?

When IT consulting firm Taos provides consultants to corporate IT organizations looking to design cloud architectures, the client’s IT employees see the writing on the wall, says Coco Brown, president and chief operations officer at the San Jose-based company.

“It may not be that their jobs are in danger, but they see that their traditional corporate IT world will be diminished in time, and they see where the exciting things are happening,” she says. “It’s a very competitive market right now, and one of the attractive messages we have is, ‘Come work for us and we’ll get you into those [cloud] environments where you’ll be on the leading edge.’ I see CIOs very frustrated by this.”

Workday’s John says he fully expects to see more IT employees within corporate IT organizations move to technology vendors — and in his book, that’s not a bad thing.

“The cloud is changing things,” he says. “You’re already seeing operations and the non-differentiating work move to the cloud.” It only follows that IT professionals focused on operations and infrastructure would also move to cloud and other technology vendor companies, he adds.

“Now, we’re not just outsourcing bodies, but technologies, processes and people,” he says. “The line between vendor CIO and corporate CIO will cease to exist, and IT people will move back and forth between that boundary much more frequently.”