Archive for March, 2015

The technology curve and it’s impact on staff

Picture from wikipediaThe Hype curve is an interesting thing, especially in the modern development and services organizations. It’s been my observation that increasing, staff hiring, to fill out development teams, as well as the services teams follow pretty much the same curve. Development staffing tends to lag 3-6 months, services staffing, another 3-6 months.

The way it works is this. In the technology industry you build up products and services in specifics areas, they follow pretty much what has become known has the “Gartner hype cycle“. A few visionaries are required at first, eventually the adoption rate is so high and so fast that customers can’t get the people they need and you build up services teams to help them often in conjunction to the products you are bringing to market. No one wants a technology they can’t use.

Eventually customers and adoption of a given technology gets to a point where one of three things happen. 1. the technology is simplified and commodotized to the point where you can’t make money from it, or the customers are no longer buying it 2. The customers have taken on board their own teams to do the work or 3. The technology itself is no longer relevant and has been superseded. This can happen very quickly, I could give a number of examples of things I know from my time at Dell, but thats not the point.

Such is the state of the technology industry, that when you reach anyone of these situations you have to look at the people you’ve got and decide how best to use them going forward. Not everyone is willing to re-train, may IT skills are NOT transferable from project to project and while it seems harsh, a team of people focused on the inner workings of a technology from 5-years ago will often be better off being let go to find opportunities with the skills they have, than put into new positions, on new technologies for which they have weak skills at best. This is especially true for services teams. Remember, customers and businesses are being charged for, or paying for the skills, knowledge and experience when they buy services, not to have someone train or re-train on the job.

As I’m sure you are aware, the IT industry is in a constant state of change, old paradigms are going quickly. Expecting businesses to hold on to staff that no longer have the skill and knowledge to develop the products, or deliver the services that will be needed in 18-24 months, much less over a longer period is, sadly a concept from the 1990’s and earlier. Layoffs in advance of change are an important way to balance the demands of an ever changing industry.

I wrote a recent blog post about staying relevant in a large company which applies to a point here https://cathcam.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/how-to-stay-relevant/


About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

Subscribe to updates via rss:

Feed Icon

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 879 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 83,508 hits