Re: Demise and rise of the IT generalist
"The question is... how do we fix this problem?"
That's a hard one. I've been doing the generalist thing for close to 20 years. And at every place I've worked, there's a huge pressure to specialize. If I actually have a specialty, it could broadly be described as "systems management and integration," and even that's a generalist job.
Like you've noticed, the big money in IT is the contract mercenary who has an incredibly narrow but extremely deep skill set. In the "systems management" specialty, I've bounced between Altiris, Microsoft's System Center products, CA's (crappy) products, LANDesk, etc. I've had to learn how each of these do things differently, but at the end of the day they're all systems management tools that do the same basic stuff. I work for a professional services company, so I get the chance to bounce around a lot more than I would in a traditional "big corporate" IT role. And yet, I'm not the mercenary type - I have a family and can't travel 40+ weeks out of the year. Those who can, and become absolute geniuses on one or two of these products, make way more than I do. I've worked with more than a few consultants who work many different contracts per year, don't have a permanent residence, and basically live in hotels making multiples of my salary. The downside is that these guys don't really have a handle on the overall picture, from end to end, like generalists do.
Here's what I think _might_ happen to fix things. Corporate IT jobs are increasingly going to be more about herding the vendor cats to make your virtualized cloud based whatever-aaS work. Getting all of this reliably functioning requires a generalist's training...even if it's not your problem to fix, you need to know enough to tell who's to blame.