Obstruction at the Core - Cloud Might Commoditize Upper Middle-Class

By CIOReview | Tuesday, February 18, 2014
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FREMONT, CA: A combination of the rise of software as a service and the increasingly complex analytics available to companies will commoditize an increasing number of white-collar jobs. According to Ashwin Viswanath of Informatica the following factors might be affected.

Product managers to transform into design experts

A product manager is seen as the ultimate owner of the product roadmap, and consequently, sets the schedule of when important functionality should be built. A product manager’s primary responsibility is to interact with customers, and distill their requirements into a set of prioritized features for R&D to build out.

While product managers perform their functions for hardware and software products, many hardware products are commoditized due to efficient and automated manufacturing techniques. As more software moves to the cloud, the infrastructure components of these cloud applications are standardized with the only difference being the user interface.

R&D becomes full-blown product owners

Cloud-based project management tools are making it incredibly easy for developers to manage schedules and deadlines themselves. In fact, some of these tools even include code integration features and functionality that allows developers to start client projects and invite them into a collaborative discussion, sharing documents, files, mockups, and other content. In this manner, developers can do many of the customer-facing functions performed by product management in a more efficient manner.

IT moves “up the stack”

IT departments ensure that all technology deployed within an organization helps employees collaborate better, and that valuable data is protected. With the increasing adoption of cloud infrastructure-as-a-service offerings, IT System Administrators will need to move higher up the stack to add value to their employers. There lies a huge opportunity for database administrators to help with the migration of data from on-premise relational databases into the cloud, and also learn new skills with other competing database technology.

Future repercussion – the elimination of middle management

With several upper middle-class roles at the risk of being completely eliminated by cloud technologies, the very existence of the middle-management functions that oversee work is also threatened. Recently, Haier, the Chinese appliance-maker, completely, eliminated its middle management and reorganized its individual contributors into self-managed teams, each responsible for their own profit and loss.

While eliminating repetitive middle-class jobs through software automation seems to be inevitable, a dire future also lies in wait for many upper middle-class jobs requiring higher cognitive skills. An increasing commoditization of their skillet will occur through cloud-based technologies. This commoditization will start on the ‘outer bands’ of employee functions, and slowly work its way to the core of the company’s most skilled employees.