As technology continues evolving, so will the role of IT professionals, rendering entry-level technologists and others useless.
The workforce is about to undergo a technological revolution: Over the next 10 years, 1.2 billion employees worldwide will be impacted by automation and artificial intelligence (AI), with 50% of jobs being changed by the technology and 5% being eliminated, according to the World Economic Forum.
While many industries will change in the next decade—82% of HR leaders predict their role will be unrecognizable in 10 years— IT professionals will see some of the biggest shifts in job function, led by growing tech innovations, said Michael Solomon, co-founder and managing partner at 10x Ascend.
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The year 2020 alone will host a bevy of technological innovations. 5G, for example, is predicted to dominate, bringing all new capabilities for connected devices. This year will also bring advanced use cases for AI and machine learning systems.
These changes will not only impact people's lives, but their jobs too. IT professionals need to prepare themselves, or get left behind, said Dave Denaro, vice president of Keystone Associates.
"People need to seriously wake up and smell the effin' roses," Solomon said.
How jobs will change
While not all changes can be predicted, here are some of the most likely changes IT professionals will see.
1. IT pros will double as advisors
As tech investments proliferate all areas of business, including marketing or sales operations, the roles of IT professionals in those less technical areas will morph into that of trusted advisors, said Shawn Dickerson, senior vice president of marketing at software company Keyedin Solutions.
"Rather than exclusively focusing on the nuts and bolts of technology, IT teams will become centers of excellence that assist the business in everything from vendor selection to mapping workflow and process," Dickerson said.
2. Some job functions will be automated
"AI and machine learning are having perhaps the biggest impact, by eliminating the configuration, mapping and integration responsibilities IT has traditionally been tasked with," Dickerson said.
By eliminating some routine tasks through automation, IT professionals are then freed up to work on more complex, creative projects, Denaro said.
Many IT professionals will also see the impact of this technology in project portfolio management (PPM). "With a nearly infinite list of digital projects IT could engage in, determining which efforts will yield the most value is becoming an increasingly vital part of IT operations," Dickerson said.
"Rather than just executing based on a first-in, first-out approach, IT teams are leveraging advances in PPM to analyze and prioritize all the requests they receive," Dickerson added.
3. Technical roles will become more technical
While technical roles in non-tech spaces will become advisors, as mentioned in the first point, technical roles in technical companies will become even more complex, Solomon said.
Solomon referred to highly technical, passionate employees employees as 10Xers, or "developers who produce 10 times more output than a regular developer."
As technology becomes more complicated, the 10Xers and other technological experts will be even more valuable for organizations, Solomon said.
However, the ability to stay updated on skills and diligent on tech trends doesn't come naturally for all technologists. Because highly technical individuals will become increasingly important, a chasm will form between the average techie and the tech expert, Solomon noted.
"As the technology evolves, the [gap] between the average person and the 10Xer gets even bigger," Solomon said. "The people who are amazing at what they do and hungry for what they do are going to have an even bigger quantum leap over the average person who went to a coding boot camp and is fine at doing basic things—there's a really big separation between those two."
How to prepare for change
To avoid getting left in the dust, IT professionals need to be proactive in managing their careers, Denaro said.
Being proactive isn't only limited to keeping skills up-to-date, but it also means employees need to be thinking ahead about their career trajectory, Denaro noted.
Upskilling and reskilling is a huge part of keeping pace. Technologists must stay attune to tech trends, identifying which skills are in demand now and which will be in the future, and then invest in themselves to gain those skills, Denaro said.
"People are going to need to upskill themselves in ways they didn't before and not wait until they hit the absolute dead end to do so," Solomon said.
Denaro said that keeping skills current is what makes a tech professional employable. For example, if you stuck with a company that promised to make you a team lead one day, but you haven't updated your programming skill in years, then you will ultimately be unemployable when the time comes to transition, Denaro said.
This advice is especially crucial for young tech professionals, who will be witnesses to the coming years of change and digital transformations, Denaro added.
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