If you haven’t heard of infrastructure outsourcing in addition to email and storage, you must have missed this article about the 80 or so IT staff at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. Outsourcing up the IT stack is already occurring with regularity in corporate environments. The company that gifted 3 million to UMass Amherst for the program I created, Trust Assurance Cybersecurity Certificate Program (TACC), outsourced its telecommunications and networking IT staff, which resulted in several hundred IT workers being laid off. Consequently, our program has applied to be a recognized center for the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA). Eligibility offers up to 25k in extended unemployment and tuition benefits, as well as job counseling, for laid off workers whose jobs have gone outside the US. I hope someone informs the folks at UCSF Medical Center of this benefit.
This trend may be starting in a medical center in California, but it is sure not to end there. The timeline will differ per location and institution, but I see outsourcing up the IT stack in colleges and universities throughout the United States. Holding back the hands the time will not help plan for future developments. Here are some considerations not only for individuals in these fields but for leadership in information technology and human resources to collaborate on a thoughtful path for staff.
1. Move up the stack: security
Networking and data center staff might refocus on plug-in technologies such as authentication. Mass Mutual, for example, retains its security operations center and enterprise risk management. In fact, Information security is the natural conduit from networking up the stack, especially for engineers who find interest in SIEMS operations and forensics.
2. Move the stack over: renewable energies
Those who like to oversee electrons from point to point might want to research renewable technologies. And not just that, but how renewable energies complement next generation on premise information technologies. This kind of investment requires a commitment from administration. IT leaders working with CFO and budget planners might want to champion for their staff as well as for the benefits of the institution overall.
3. Change up the stack: information management
More administrative than engineering, information management nonetheless needs people who understand how information technologies work. Privacy and security, regulatory compliance, and risk assessment are growing fields. Moreover, existing certifications such as CISSP or SANS do not adequately address institutional needs. Insufficiently comprehensive, these certifications focus too narrowly on operational policies and fail to manage information flows and do not consider the myriad use cases of a multi-constituent complex campus.
Once told by a HR administrator that Cornell did not have time for my “crazy ideas,” I have come to see that crazy ideas are precisely from where the next generation of job categories and families are going to emerge. We can’t turn back the hands of time, but we sure can plan. Not only will those exercises hold the promise of institutional efficiencies but of aligning missions in service of staff. As many of us head for retirement, we should be thinking about how to support younger colleagues as they advance. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. There is a lot we can do to help them put on their seat belts.
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