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What goes down must come up

A surge in online job listings has analysts and hiring managers anticipating a tech job turnaround in the region:
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,60854,00.html

Confidence up as tech job rise continues
http://australianit.news.com.au/articles/0,7204,7480911%5E15335%5E%5Enbv%5E15306%2D15317,00.html

Jobs growth sustained
http://australianit.news.com.au/articles/0,7204,7449915%5E15335%5E%5Enbv%5E15306%2D15317,00.html

Matthew Lock
Monday, October 20, 2003

Yeh, sure. Based on the usual pie in the sky. These are also the geniuses who went along with the crap about skill shortages not so long ago.


Monday, October 20, 2003

I buy it. I've been watching the job listings gradually increasing over the past 8 months, and there *has* been a surge in the DC area in the past month.

[hint: federal fiscal year]

Philo

Philo
Monday, October 20, 2003

Well, I guess the issue is how far down do we still need to go?

The problem here is most industry find a 2, or 3% growth in jobs on a annual basis.

Thus, we have to look a pre 97 jobs in the IT industry, and then throw in a 3% annual rate of growth. Basic on that type of scenario, we still have at least several million jobs to shed in our industry.

However, there does seem to be some up ticks in some areas right now. It is not large, but I do also see some signs of new activity.

If we could remove the overhangs from the excessive hiring of the boom years, then our industry could return to a normal growth rate. However, we still need to remove a lot of jobs from our industry.

There is also tons of areas in our industry that is way too fat. A good example is the number of support people needed to support the average pc.

I recall the old boom days where the average railroad yard had about 5000 employees (loading coal, loading water, loading wood, loading fright etc). That same rail road yard today can run easily with 300 people.  As an industry matures, it gets a LOT more efficient.

Last time I looked, it took about one person to support 25 computers. That ratio in a few years should climb to about 200, or even 300 computers. (in the green screen days, it was well over 400 to 1).

That means right now that the IT support industry has about 10 times too many support people, and they will loose a lot of jobs. So, there is still going to be some areas that experience HUGE JOB losses in the future. These job losses are addition to the fact that we still have overhangs from the dot com boom.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Monday, October 20, 2003

The Australian IT article mentions 8.9% growth. That sounds good, but considering the huge, huge drop we've seen, it's nothing much.

Australia didn't go anywhere near as overboard as the US in the .COM boom, IMO. Yet the number of jobs available here shrunk dramatically over the past few years.

I'd say, using rough estimates based on my own informal looking at the job boards, that the number of job adverts is currently at best 20% of the level seen in mid-2001 (which was when I was last looking heavily for a job).

And by mid-2001 things were already starting to slow down. I'd guess they were about 50% of their peak during late 99/early 2000.

So considering job adverts are IME running at 10% of the level they were only 3-4 years ago, a 8.9% growth is a drop in the bucket. We'll need to see at least a year of such growth to even make a dent. Given the size of the downslope, I'm loath to declare this the upslope just yet.

Sum Dum Gai
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

There seem to be a lot less people looking for IT jobs, which really helps.

Matthew Lock
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

How do you come up with 1 person supporting 200 PCs? Maybe in a call center. But unless the way the PC is used in the average business changes radically, I really can't imagine that kind of ratio working (that is, assuming you want your PC to be happy and not quit on you every 3-6 months).

Rob VH
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Philo, don't know if you saw the article in the Washington Post this past weekend, but it looks as if the job market is only up by about 1/2 a percent over the level it was last year in the DC Area.  Although, I must admit, I have been seeing a lot more ads in the paper recently.  Unfortunately I don't have the paper anymore as it was pre Sunday's Post, so I am unable to verify the actual number :-/

Elephant
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

FWIW, I too have been seeing more jobs advertised the last several months. 


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Of course there's more job ads recently. Dubya needs some bush fire out there.

Johnny Bravo
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

I think it must have been a long time since Albert looked if he finds figures like one person full time supporting 25 PCs. I used to look after exactly that number (16 in a CALL lab) and nine staff PCs, and I was given 5 hours a week in compensation. Once I had set up the network from scratch and leaned how to make a Ghost copy of the CALL computers it became more than enough.

I suspect what you are seeing is a small company where the person in charge of the PC's has other responsibilties (such as entering all the data into the database, keeping the web site up, answering most email, formatting letters in Word, ordering flowers for the bosses wedding annivesary and so on).

A more realistic support figure would be around one full time person for 70 PC's, but with the plummeting cost of hardware a company can now standardize on two or three configurations, run cloning software, have an intranet for FAQ's, and so I would say the figure of one person per 200 PC's is reasonable. Especially as W2000 and Win XP are both fairly stable.

I seem to remember Robert Moir claiming he was single-handedly responsible for a whole college (400 + PC's). Perhaps he can give us his figures.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"Well, I guess the issue is how far down do we still need to go?"

Why is that the issue?  What evidence (sources) are you using to assert that we still have a drastic overhang.

I'm not sure how much excess capacity is left in the workplace right now.  The Fed (U.S.) has been saying that the last 3 years have eaten a lot of our excess capacity. 

Bob
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Encouraging news.

A lot of people here are using 1999 as a base line, and keep  boo-hooing hoping for it to come back.  Ain't gonna happen.  Time to deal with the new reality.

Although, there are still a lot of people predicting there will be a huge job crunch when the boomers start to retire.  So I guess you could just wait for that to happen before letting go of the Eeyore/Marvin-the-Paranoid-Android outlook.

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

>>How do you come up with 1 person supporting 200 PCs? Maybe in a call center. But unless the way the PC is used in the average business changes radically, I really can't imagine that kind of ratio working (that is, assuming you want your PC to be happy and not quit on you every 3-6 months).

No, take a look at several other responses in this thread. Clearly some companies have ALREADY reached the ratio of 200 pcs. (some even mentioned higher numbers here).

The key is how technologies like thin client, and re-imaging technology is being adopted.

I know of some companies right now, that if your pc has a problem, the support center  will type a in a few commands, and you log off, and then log back on, and your WHOLE PC  is completely re-images automatically. Of course, your documents, email stuff etc is not lost, as it is saved on the server anyway.

Total time to re-image – less then 20 minutes. That image includes ALL SOFTWARE, patches, and updates for that pc (and that 20 minutes DOES NOT TAKE HUMAN time). The user simply goes for coffee, or lunch. No tech person is dispatched. A simple logoff, and logon is all that is required..

Heck, to re-install all the software on my notebook (windows, windows updates, screen settings, office software, office updates etc., and Browser settings generally takes a whole day. With a ghost image, I can re-install my WHOLE notebook and its software in less them 7 minutes flat (barely enough time to get a coffee).

A large portion of pc support is still the old fashioned way of sending some person around with a bunch of cd’s to troubleshoot, an support each individual pc on a one by one basis. Some companies even still send people around to install software on each pc. Once some of the thin client,and re-imaging technology becomes wide spread in use, then anyone will be able to re-image their own pc in a matter of minutes. Gee, my pc is running funnry,and hit the re-imagine button and 5 minutes latter be back in business.

As several respondent mentioned, many companies are easily reaching 1 support person for 200 or more computes. The numbers I quoted are well within what the industry is experiencing right now.

However, there are still a lot of companies not using these advanced support techniques, and thus they have a long long way to go. Some are still down in the 25 range!

As more of the industry adopts the better support technologies, then there will be a large reduction in the amount of support people needed. Some rightly pointed out, that much of this efficiently has already been realized by parts of our industry.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

>"A lot of people here are using 1999 as a base line, and keep  boo-hooing hoping for it to come back."

Even in 1999, when you could get multiple job offers within a month of looking, people were boo-hooing about H1Bs taking away American jobs.  Some people are just whiners no matter what.

--
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"I know of some companies right now, that if your pc has a problem, the support center  will type a in a few commands, and you log off, and then log back on, and your WHOLE PC  is completely re-images automatically. Of course, your documents, email stuff etc is not lost, as it is saved on the server anyway."

And then the user calls back to ask what happened to the unsupported app they downloaded a few months ago and have been using to support a critical business function.

Jim Rankin
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

It's the user's fault for using unsupported software for a critical business function AND not remembering to tell IT about it before the reformat AND not installing it to a network location instead of their C drive.  This behavior should not be happening often.

If the user's machine is locked down, it means their software must be installable in their local profile instead of requiring admin privs, and therefore they should be installing it to a network location.

Heck, with W2K, you can put My Documents and every single user-writeable directory on a network location.  Their software will then still be there after a format.

Richard Ponton
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

"A lot of people here are using 1999 as a base line, and keep  boo-hooing hoping for it to come back.  Ain't gonna happen.  Time to deal with the new reality."

I think that's the point of using it as a baseline.

The thread is entitled "What goes down must come up". I was pointing out that we're no where near coming up to that level. I agree we'll probably never come back up that far.

We're not gunna come back up, because up was a bit ridiculous. We're still well down on non-ridiculous levels though, IMO.

Sum Dum Gai
Tuesday, October 21, 2003

>>And then the user calls back to ask what happened to the unsupported app they downloaded a few months ago and have been using to support a critical business function.

I don’t know of ANY well run company that allows ANY user to install software. In fact, most systems now are locked down as to not allow this.

Other companies simply have signs up:

Installing and changing computer configuration is grounds for dismissal.

Any company that does not have some strict polices on how the computers are managed simply are going to throw away un-told thousands of dollars down the tubs every year on wasted down time.  Those extra dollars are far better used to pay people more, or even get better equipment, or give employees extra time off, or whatever.

Just some small changes in computer policies can save a company unbelief amounts in wasted support dollars.

Some very small business I know with 5 or 6 computers are spending MORE FOR tech support then companies with 25 computers. It is so wasteful, and the main reason is that in the small company there is simply NO policy on how each computer is to be manged. (and they are constantly screaming how much it cost to keep a pc up and running). After a month of abuse, these pc's are in such rough shape that I don't even want my software running on them!


It is sheer folly to have employees and users installing software on individual pc’s. We don’t let employees modify company cars, and the same should go for computers.


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Basically right about small companies, because there if somebody needs to install something, he can quickly get to the guy who gives permission, and that guy is often the owner who's not going to stick to a restictive policy when he thinks it saves him money.

However with many big companies what ends up by happening is that the whole show is run for the IT department, instead of the IT department being there to run the whole show. Think of the number of forums where the IT Nazis don't let Word or Zip files through, so that you end up with a Hotmail address for all the companies hiring, or where they ban Access, so you end up with databases in Excel, or Word, or Notepad.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, October 25, 2003

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