Study forecasts tech job growth in region

Posted on March 7, 2012

More than 4,100 jobs a year are expected to be created in Metro Detroit as companies here increasingly embrace cloud computing instead of costly in-house computer storage systems, a Microsoft Corp.-funded study released this week says.

Money saved by getting computer applications and storage through offsite “clouds” or data centers could be invested and translate into an increase of 12,500 information technology jobs in the Detroit region by 2015, according to the report by International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass.-based information technology consulting firm. In North America, it would create 1.17 million jobs, the study said.

Microsoft is a large provider of cloud computing services.

“The cloud has a large impact for businesses today: powering productivity, cutting costs and freeing up IT staff to focus on more mission-critical work,” said John Fikany, vice president and general manager of Microsoft Heartland District in Southfield in a statement. “It’s become apparent that the cloud is helping to restore economic health all over the world, including in Detroit.”

The findings appear to be significant, said Allan Krans, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research in New Hampshire. But the growth of cloud computing also could lead to fewer specialized IT jobs, he said.

“When you shift to the cloud, it’s either going to result in the restructuring of (an IT) department or a net reduction,” Krans said.

There were 6,434 cloud-related jobs in Metro Detroit in 2011, according to the study. The number is projected to grow to 7,558 by the end of this year. An average of 1.8 million people was employed in the six-county region last year, state officials said.

New Jersey-based GalaxE.Solutions has 150 information technology workers in its downtown Detroit office and is looking to hire another 200. GalaxE.Solutions has trumpeted the competiveness of the region’s IT workers at a White House event this year and with a large “Outsource to Detroit” banner on its Woodward Avenue office building.

But Detroit remains a smaller player in information technology compared with other regions of the nation. New York City is expected to experience the highest cloud-related job growth with an increase of 56,562 such jobs through 2015, according to IDC.

New York has a heavy concentration of professional firms that spend heavily on cloud computing while Detroit has a high level of retail and utility firms, which are less likely to embrace cloud technology, the report said.

By Serena Maria Daniels, Detroit News