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Web/e-commerce support personnel play a strategic role in organizations, but several factors have combined to result in a smaller percentage of the typical IT staff devoted to this vital function. It may seem counter-intuitive, considering the increasing volume and complexity of websites and e-commerce. Nevertheless, the percentage of the IT staff devoted to this function has been on a general decline since 2013.
As seen in Figure 1 from the full report, Web/E-Commerce Staffing Ratios, the percentage of the IT staff dedicated to web/e-commerce development and operations dropped to 3.1% in 2017, down from 4.0% in 2016 and 4.3% in 2013.
What are the reasons for the decline? It is a combination of forces. A major reason is that web/e-commerce personnel are becoming more efficient due to automation of routine work and increased use of cloud services.
We have also observed that there is an ongoing evolution in the mix of IT staffing skills. Other kinds of IT specialists are growing, changing the makeup of the total IT staff, and this is affecting job functions such as the web/e-commerce role. The IT functions that are growing include application developers, application maintenance/support, business analysts, security specialists, and end-user technical support.
“IT leaders may think that this IT position would be growing or at least holding steady, considering all the ways that customers and suppliers interact with your websites and e-commerce systems,” said Tom Dunlap, director of research for Computer Economics, based in Irvine, Calif. “It’s clear that some website and e-commerce tasks are becoming more efficient. This reality has combined with the continuing evolution of the IT staff, which is affecting these staffing numbers.”
Our definition of web/e-commerce staff includes web developers, designers, administrators, and other individuals who work on the company’s public websites, as well as those who maintain intranet sites. It also includes personnel who are dedicated to e-commerce activities, such as EDI specialists. We have a separate staffing category for personnel supporting communications and messaging systems.
Not all IT organizations have web/e-commerce staff. Some outsource this function entirely or combine the role with other functions. In other cases, web operations may be part of a line-of-business organization, such as marketing, sales, or customer service. This is often the case with large retailers that have significant e-commerce operations. To produce reliable benchmarks, we exclude from the sample organizations that, for whatever reason, do not staff this function.
When considering the ratio of web/e-commerce personnel, it is helpful to keep in mind that the size of web/e-commerce support operations varies widely by industry sector, depending on an organization’s need for e-commerce and online customer service. For CIOs to calibrate their staffing requirements, in the full report we provide benchmarks for staffing functions related to web and e-commerce development and operations. We benchmark web/e-commerce staffing with two ratios: web/e-commerce staff as a percentage of the IT staff and users per web/e-commerce staff member. Finally, we examine the influence of sector on web/e-commerce staffing.