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IT isn't dead

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IT has become vital to business profitability. At Harrah's Entertainment, for example, projects that are part of an ongoing operational CRM initiative are producing a higher internal rate of return than would adding buildings and infrastructure, and the CRM projects are generating revenue increases of 10% to 50%. Those initiatives depend on IT, including data warehouse and business intelligence technologies.

The fast pace of technological change keeps IT careers interesting. As the costs of processing power, storage and connectivity continue to drop, more and more business processes are being auto-mated. IT is and will continue to be a growing part of business.

The threat of offshoring is overstated. Globalization is indeed redistributing some IT jobs. Many positions -- especially those that can be virtualized -- are migrating to low-wage locations. But many aren't going anywhere. Ultimately, all business is local. Cultural, proximity and time-zone limitations do matter because they can affect customer service, customer trust and customer loyalty. Perhaps that's why Dell is expanding its call center in Oklahoma instead of New Delhi. Meanwhile, broadband and voice over IP are giving more U.S. workers the agility to compete by working from home in virtual call centers.

The globalization of IT is an opportunity. Global businesses are moving some highly skilled IT jobs into overseas offices, placing key human resources closer to customers in each market. Some view this as an exodus of skilled jobs from the U.S. But the idea that all highly skilled IT jobs in a global company should remain centralized here is as ridiculous as assuming that all of those jobs will go to India. The good news is that the next generation of IT professionals will find a global job market with opportunities to live and work in many different countries.

Demand for IT workers in the U.S. will remain strong. The H-1B visas that enable foreign workers to take high-tech jobs are often viewed as a threat to U.S. workers, rather than the stopgap measure they are. Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett has stated that wage differentials aren't the issue and that Intel would hire more U.S. engineers if it could find them.

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