Local studies show that cloud computing will have a positive impact on jobs and training in SA, according to Gareth Jane, Windows Azure platform strategy advisor at Microsoft SA.
“IT professionals have feared that jobs are going to be lost, but research shows us quite the contrary,” said Jane, speaking at ITWeb’s Cloud Computing Summit in Johannesburg this morning.
An IDC study shows that, worldwide, cloud computing is expected to bring about an increase in jobs, with a few exceptions. “In the US, there is going to be a slight loss in jobs related to cloud computing, but in most other countries, we see a dramatic increase in the IT skills that will be required,” he noted.
South Africa is expected to see a 135% increase in IT skills demand related to cloud computing, said Jane. “This will not be the same across all industries,” he added. “There are dramatic differences across industries. The impact of cloud on industries like manufacturing will be low, but in more innovative industries, such as media, the impact and requirement of skills will be much higher.”
The increase in demand for skills extends beyond direct employment, emphasised Jane. An increase in jobs created by software development will have a knock-on effect, increasing both indirect and induced employment.“For example, a software company that starts up will not only need IT professionals, but also graphics and design skills as well as marketing people to get the software off the ground. This is an increase in indirect employment,” he explained. “Then, if a software company opens up, the restaurants and garages around the business are going to be positively impacted – this is induced employment.
“What the research also shows us is that ancillary industries are impacted, such as advertising, design, marketing, training and business process outsourcing. Because cloud computing starts removing geographic boundaries, companies are able to start innovating and pulling assets together in the space of business process outsourcing.”
In SA in particular, cloud is expected to have a multifaceted impact on business, said Jane. While the increased productivity permitted by cloud-related efficiency and services will affect businesses of all sizes, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be especially boosted by the increased competitiveness brought about by cloud.
“Smaller businesses will be competing against bigger companies they typically wouldn’t have been able to touch, and will also have increased international competitiveness,” he explained. “The decreased capital costs will also help small businesses to become more competitive and productive.”
The impact of cloud extends far outside the circle of IT, noted Jane, dramatically affecting wider areas of business. “With companies adopting cloud computing, it’s not only about the tech.”