Last week I was having a conversation with a colleague about SaaS, mobile computing, and monopolies. As is usual with conversations in which I am involved we got to musing about people aspects of working in this industry. Now my colleague is a young rising star and is a proper tech-head. He's heavily into home automation and sees the future of computing as being mobile and XaaS-driven - which looks about right at this moment in time. However his response to my people angle was a pretty blunt "good idea and it's probably relevant now but soon it won't be 'cause companies won't need so many people to do this sort of thing" (he drew an arc to indicate the workers in the large operations centre that we were sat in). I wondered what he meant. Did he see the future of ITSM as being an automated one? That SaaS scaling would reduce the size of our industry and introduce much more self-service? Technology that repaired and configured itself? He also suggested that much of the manual work will be outsourced.
I've never been that good at predicting the technological future (although I was mightily impressed by the potential of global data networks in the late eighties and early nineties), but even if my young colleague's predictions come true - and as I said to him at the time - people are always going to be involved. From the support staff at the outsourcing organisations, to the service designers, architects and application developers - psychology matters. If organisation A is staffed with unmotivated, inflexible and unsatisfied workers it'll lose out to organisation B stuffed to the gills with proactive, innovative, change-receptive and happy people. I mean, this young gun was brought on board via the company's exhaustive recruitment scheme; assesment centres, structured interviews, that's all occupational psychology! And it's not all about recruitment. Once people are in-situ you need to do what's necessary to keep them motivated and sharp. So yes, I'm loving the future visions, but people aren't about to become obsolete... just yet.