Cloud computing will potentially generate at least 14 million new jobs across the globe within the next three years. Moreover, these new jobs may likely be in many areas outside of IT.
Those findings come from new research conducted by IDC and sponsored by Microsoft Corp., looking at the economic benefits of cloud computing in the years ahead. A couple of months back, a Microsoft-underwritten study by the London School of Economics projected substantial job growth in two industries, smartphones and aerospace.
Fourteen million new jobs is a significant number to be sure, but when compared against the size of the global workforce (more than 3 billion), it’s in the neighborhood of half a percent, or a small drop in the bucket. And only 1.17 million of these jobs will be seen in North America. A majority of these jobs will be found in emerging markets — 10 million will arise in China, India and the Asia-Pacific region. This is mainly due to the immense size of these country’s workforces — 1.2 billion workers in China and India alone, the study report observes.
A big question, of course, is what types of jobs will actually be created as a direct result of cloud. It’s natural to assume many will be IT — cloud developers, integration specialists, and so on. And there are many areas made possible by cloud formations. Recently, for example, TechNet, a consortium of tech business leaders, issued a report that estimated that the “App Economy” — the industry creating apps for smartphones and tablets — has already created 466,000 jobs in the United States alone.Many of these would be app software creators and developers. This is a career and entrepreneurship area that leverages cloud to make things happen.Still, it’s a good start. And any level of job creation is a good thing. Cloud is clearly a positive force, creating more opportunities than it takes away. As the study’s author, John Gantz, put it: “A common misperception is cloud computing is a job eliminator, but in truth it will be a job creator — a major one. And job growth will occur across continents and throughout organizations of all sizes because emerging markets, small cities and small businesses have the same access to cloud benefits as large enterprises or developed nations.”
But IDC points out that since jobs are being created as a result of increased business revenue from cloud, the jobs will be across the breadth of enterprises, in areas such as marketing, sales, finance and administration, production, and service. We may not have even imagined yet what job titles may emerge. And many non-IT people may have the cloud to thank, at least indirectly, for their opportunities. I’ll bet it will be more than 14 million that have career opportunities tied to the cloud.
IDC’s research also predicts revenues from cloud innovation could reach $1.1 trillion per year within the next 36 months. The analyst firm estimates that last year alone, IT cloud services helped organizations of all sizes and all vertical sectors around the world generate more than $400 billion in revenue and 1.5 million new jobs. In the next four years, the number of new jobs will surpass 8.8 million.
IDC’s approach was fairly rigorous, calculating including available country workforce, unemployment rates, GDP, IT spend by industry and company size, industry mix by country and city, technology infrastructure by country and city, regulatory environment, and other factors.
Not clear from the report is how much job creation will be tied to new, innovative startups that will be made possible because of the cloud. This is hard to predict, and government employment statistics always miss the possibilities new innovations bring to the scene. Remember, in the early 1990s, nobody predicted the dot-come boom about to hit, which helped fuel a full-employment economy for a few years. Nobody could have predicted startups such as Amazon.com or Google or Yahoo! So we don’t know exactly how far this new model of application delivery will take us.
And, tellingly, the study says there’s another entirely new dynamic — companies becoming cloud providers themselves. This may also turn bring many existing portions of workforces into the cloud economy as well. “Beyond this, and not measured in this study, is the use that cloud computing can be put to beyond mere capital cost avoidance,” the report observes. “Organizations large and small can host their own cloud services for their own customers."