This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Business Agility, sponsored by IBM. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Business Agility site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

The Cloud Will Rain Jobs

Studies indicate over a million new cloud-spawned jobs in the US over 5 years.

Business agility is the number one reason companies are turning to the cloud; reducing costs is second. All this cloud activity will create millions of new jobs, not all of them in technical fields.

The cloud wave now breaking over the tech world will be, by some estimates, a bigger driver of innovation and disruption than the Internet was in the 1990s. You can get some idea of the forces impelling the cloud phenomenon by looking at the stock and venture markets. Yesterday Demandwire went public, and its stock popped almost 100 percent over the IPO price of $16 per share, settling down around 50 percent above, at $24.50. And on the venture front, Appirio raised $60 million in a D round, to fund a business model intent upon disrupting the traditional consulting and development processes of the likes of Accenture and Deloitte.

Some jobs will be eliminated, certainly, as businesses move to the cloud. In particular, IT positions concerned mainly with the upkeep, care, and feeding of in-house servers are at risk. But the cloud phenomenon seems certain to create far more jobs than it disrupts, according to a pair of studies released in the last few weeks. The people displaced from in-house systems and network management jobs could, if they have been preparing, move over to the business side and aid in the development of business intelligence and big-data analytics solutions. There is an argument to be made that the MBAs don't have a lock on the new positions that cloud computing will enable in corporations.

Alternatively, those people could find work with the companies running the data centers that are being built at a rapid pace to meet the demand for cloud services. These new data centers are more efficient than what they are replacing, so fewer people are needed to run them; but the overall scale of the cloud phenomenon argues that the total number of technical jobs created could be larger than the sum of those disrupted.

It is clear that at present, the number of purely technical job openings in the cloud space far outstrips the supply of people with the requisite skills and background to fill them. This spells opportunity in the near term.

A study by the Sand Hill Group adds up the jobs likely to be created by cloud computing in the US over five years, and comes up with a number in the vicinity of a million. (This study is a gathering of data from reports put together by McKinsey & Company, Gartner, and IHS.)

IDC did original research, sponsored by Microsoft, to calculate a 5-year figure for cloud-spawned job creation worldwide. They arrived at a total of at least 14 million new jobs. Most of these will be created in China, India, and Asia-Pacific, but the number for the US is 1.2 million. At first most of the new jobs will be technical, as cloud companies expand to meet the demand, but IDC points out that since jobs are being created as a result of increased business revenue resulting from cloud adoption, the jobs will spread across most enterprises, in areas such as sales,marketing, finance and administration, production, and customer service.

The cloud will be the most significant enabler of business agility of all time, and its growth will demand personal and career agility from everyone in its path as it roils the job market, but ultimately expands it.