Enterprise hits and misses - remote work forces cities into re-invention, while the IT job market gets a gut check

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed September 14, 2020
This week - the IT job market puts the pressure on, but the global skills gap remains. The size of the office economy is quantified - and the future of cities is debated. Oracle turns in strong numbers. Readers get a satirical "moonshot" for the ages. As always, your whiffs, and a dash of TikTokery.


Lead story - Tackling the global skills crisis - is the IT job market back on track?

MyPOV: Tech skills went through the diginomica analytical grinder this week. First up: Kurt parses data on the U.S. market in IT job market - back from the abyss, but watch for lasting structural changes.

No surprise: IT professionals have fared better (less overall unemployment) than the job market as a whole. However, the skills gap is a threatening issue. As Kurt notes:

The compression of technology adoption also shortens the time before some IT jobs become irrelevant and the timeline for acquiring new skills.

The spending pullback in external IT services and consulting will reverberate:

Future hiring will focus on IT staff, not management overhead or consultants.

As companies shift workloads to the clouds, and scale back internal data centers, another round of job displacement happens. Kurt posits that IT professionals who rely on a "buffer" of time to retool their skills may find that buffer is well, gone. Meanwhile, Cath picks up the global implications of the digital skills gap in Tackling the global digital skills crisis - national approaches to an international issue.

She examines World Economic Forum data on a regional basis, hitting on the European Union, India, and Singapore. On the impact of AI and automation, she writes:

While most staff will operate alongside machines rather than being replaced by them (only 5% of the workforce will be replaced), a huge nine out of 10 will require digital skills to be able to work effectively, exacerbating a shortage of expertise that is already troubling.

Cath argues that a nationalistic approach, with each country trying to bridge its own digital skills gap, is far from ideal. A global problem should be tackled globally, avoiding wheel re-invention. Agreed - as long as a global approach doesn't preclude companies from upskilling their own. Too often, we see companies reaching far and wide to source talent, but surprisingly reluctant/unable to upskill their own.

Also see: Derek's take one of the biggest remote work challenges: hiring new talent (It’s not all about tech - what to think about when hiring and onboarding remotely).

Update: Oracle partners with TikTok after Microsoft loses bid. After I polished hits and misses, Oracle screwed up my plan revved up the Sunday news cycle. We'll get back to this story next week.

Diginomica picks - my top stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style.

Phil issued a Coupa two-for-one, drawing on his interview with Coupa's CEO, and a new book as well. Time to analyze one of the most compelling concepts I've seen a vendor push out:: community intelligence.

A few more vendor picks, without the quips:

Jon's grab bag - Den ruminates on all that has changed in No more 9 to 5? Reshaping the concept of work. Remember when I poked a bit of fun at Chris for being too erudite and thoughtful to pull off a good rant? Well, he brought the vinegar proved me wrong in Friday Rant - why Agile development is a fad, not a proper engineering approach. Surprised we haven't heard from the pass-the-agile-Koolaid agile-or-bust crowd on this one - but there's still time. 

Finally, Derek unfurled an (illustrated) satirical gem in The government’s mass testing Moonshot project looks like a 90s Silicon Valley PowerPoint nightmare:

Strategic relationships with multiple potential partners sounds more like my previous dating profiles than a £100 billion government project, but here we are! We then move on to 'Moonshot Headquarters' (you just know the person writing this fancies themselves as a 007 fanboy).

Don't think I can top that...

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

Lead story - Why Airlines, Cities, and Starbucks Need Remote Workers Back at the Office

MyPOV: This Medium.com piece by Steve LeVine implies the author is making a "we must get back to the office, pronto" pitch, but it's not that simple. First, Levine documents the scope of the semi-hidden commuter economy, as "once-teeming city business districts" turn into "commercial ghost towns."

Starbucks alone attributes a $2 billion loss to this remote work shift; 60 to 70 percent of airline travel was business-related (business airline travel is down 97 percent). LeVine adds:

And the move to remote work doesn't show signs of stopping anytime soon. In recent months, many companies, including JPMorgan Chase, Ford Motor, Twitter, and REI have announced some version of a long-term or permanent work-from-home future.

His concern? The hit on GDP for years to come. But LeVine also acknowledges the chance to rethink cities. Remote workers in rural locations, less traffic/congestion, more affordable housing across the board. I think the only two useful questions are:

  • How can we seize this creative opportunity to make cities more livable?
  • How can we mitigate the human suffering these disruptions are causing?

The rest is either hand-wringing or nostalgia.

On Cybersecurity

Honorable mention

Overworked businessman


In case you missed it, the world's slowest musical composition changed chords for first time in seven years. Oh, and CIO Insight proposed an innovative new solution for fighting ransomware: tape backup. Meanwhile, Amazon gathered more laurels in its valiant push to the cutting edge of privacy: here comes Amazon Alexa for landlords.

If you're missing air travel but want to stay near the safety of home, maybe this could be your fix:

Finally, The Guardian surprised me by diving headlong into page view sensationalism:

Generating raw copy that babbles on and occasionally sounds coherent? Gosh, machines are really good at that! The Guardian claimed all eight of the computer-generated essays were compelling - sure they were, I'm certain they were literary marvels. Yet The Guardian cherry-picked from each to create one output. Then they edited that one. That's exactly the type of human judgment that will continue to confound so-called "AI."

AI is fine for summarization of sports games and stock reports. Basically, transcription. Get back to us when "AI" offers up a point of view. If this AI essay scares you, then you stink at writing, in the timeless lyrics of Harry Chapin, full time consideration of another endeavor might be in order. See you next time...

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang. 

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Loser and Winner © ispstock - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, Zoho, Coupa and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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