Gartner: Hail the new era of 'IT versatilists'

The research firm predicts that demand for IT specialists will shrink by 40 percent, and budgets for new technology will fall.

Demand for IT specialists could shrink as much as 40 percent within the next five years, according to predictions by Gartner analysts who today unveiled a list of key trends for 2006.

According to the research firm, businesses will increasingly look to employ "IT versatilists"--people who are not only specialized in IT, but who demonstrate business competencies by handling multidisciplinary assignments.

"The long-term value of today's IT specialists will come from understanding and navigating the situations, processes and buying patterns that characterize vertical industries and cross-industry processes," said Diane Morello, Gartner's research vice president, in a media statement.

According to Gartner, the workplace will also spawn a trend which will see the transfer of laptop ownership from company to employee. By 2008, 10 percent of companies will adopt this practice, managing the use of employee-owned laptops with schemes such as notebook allowances.

In addition, the analyst predicts that spending on regulatory compliance will grow at a rate twice that of IT spending.

In a bid to keep up with regulatory compliance requirements by the U.S. government and European Commission, businesses may consume discretionary IT budgets. This would leave little resources for organizations to manage initiatives key to business growth, such as exploring the use of new technology, Gartner warned.

The analyst advised IT departments to work with their legal, financial, and corporate departments to ensure business growth.

These and other industry trends are part of Gartner's research series that discusses major trends affecting IT users, vendors and most industries in 2006 and beyond.