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Re-examining your IT career options

By Stefano M. Stefan, UC Irvine Extension
January 25, 2005 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - According to Forrester Research data released last May, 3.4 million jobs will have been moved offshore by 2015. Most of these jobs are in IT and computer science, and this trend has many people worried. News reports are filled with stories of high-paying, white-collar IT jobs moving to Eastern Europe or Asia, and anecdotal accounts of senior computer professionals being laid off abound. Politicians are jumping on this issue, stating that legislators should enact laws restricting or prohibiting outsourcing. But does this trend really spell doom for American technology professionals, or does it instead open up opportunities for new careers?
While it may seem that outsourcing is draining jobs from the U.S., most of the statistics that have been gaining public attention fail to mention the new jobs that have been created at the same time by the same companies doing the outsourcing. The millions of job losses being predicted are gross losses, not net losses. In addition, it's important to remember that sending work overseas is not by any means a new phenomenon. The manufacturing sector began shifting its center offshore many years ago, but people didn't seem to notice because overall domestic job production in new fields eclipsed job losses. New jobs and new careers evolved to fill the void.
So, what types of jobs are likely to remain in the U.S.? First of all, any job that must be performed locally, such as food service, personal care and retail, will remain here. These are not necessarily professional jobs, however, and thus aren't appropriate alternatives for displaced knowledge workers. The second type of job involves creativity and innovation -- which are more difficult to send overseas and provide excellent opportunities domestically.
In the early days of IT implementation, software applications and IT infrastructures were much simpler. IT users in an enterprise could work directly with their information services departments to have business processes and functions automated. Today, everything is much more complex, and there is little time to waste on trial-and-error approaches. Automating a business process with computer technology involves careful analysis from the start; a well-defined business model; translating that model to systems architecture; developing the applications; and performing testing, verification and validation of the final product. This is where systems analysts and business analysts come in. They provide a very important link between users and the information services department of an organization.
In a typical corporate IT project, a business analyst works with application end users to elicit and document their business requirements and to analyze their business processes. He



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