Automation has helped numerous industries in ways many of us may never fully understand. But these advances come at a cost... jobs. In some instances, the automation of a job has made employee positions redundant. That's a pretty steep cost.
However, that doesn't mean the IT landscape will be mowed down by automation. In fact, it might open up new jobs for IT pros. Let's take a look and see how this could happen.
All of that automation requires some serious coding. And every time a business needs to alter the shape and scale of the automation, programming is likely to be involved. This will be especially true when the automation lands outside the scope of traditional businesses and SMBs begin to rely on automation.
Automation shouldn't always conjure up a massive scale warehouse filled with a corps of robots droning away at building automobiles. Automation falls all the way down to the small mom-and-pop shops. Consider the automated email response—or nearly anything within the world of the Internet of Things. Mobility itself will help drive a level of automation that only IT pros can handle. And the more traction mobility gains, the more automation will become a part of everyday life.
All those networked devices... the ones that are actually doing the work humans once did? They will need significant security protectection. Not only to prevent someone from hacking into the system and stealing data, but to keep nefarious users from bringing systems to a halt. Your automated system comes to a halt and that bottom line you've bolstered (thanks to the automation) will bottom out. Security will continue to rise as one of the most important elements of IT—to the point where even automated systems depend upon you for safety.
Automated systems won't just need an added measure of security, either. Reliability will become tantamount to success. No matter how brilliantly an automated system has been designed, if it doesn't work, it's worthless. IT pros will be depended upon to ensure those systems are reliable. This means keeping tabs on the code that drives the automated system, the code that binds the systems together, and the devices that are driven by the code.
Those automated systems have to be designed. Guess who'll be doing that: engineers and IT pros. Automation isn't going to come easy for every business, and they'll lean heavily on those who can design systems ready to help bring them into a more modern and more efficient era. Some automated systems will comprise individual apps and services that must be pieced together... which is right in IT's wheelhouse.
6: Creation, repair, maintenance
Artificial consciousness is still trapped in sci-fi —at least for the moment. We are a long, long way off from robots begetting robots or robots repairing themselves (or the systems they belong to). Because of this, you will be responsible for the creation and the repair of automated systems. We are nowhere near a time and place where businesses can function without IT. It's simply not an option. So no matter how good the automated systems become, businesses will still rely on IT staff.
7: Limited reach
Until C3PO-like units are deployed as IT staff, there are still elements of business that automation can't control or serve. Take, for instance, email servers. Although we could feasibly reach a point where an automated system could maintain an email server, there is no way such a system could, without human interaction, recover bulk email from a specific time period or troubleshoot a server when the solution doesn't meet the standard criteria as outlined by the server manufacturer.
8: System complexity
As more and more automation makes its way into the world of daily business, the systems that have taken over tasks from humans will continue to grow in complexity. This means the average thinker won't be up to the task of keeping pace with the work flow. For that, they will need staff that can think on their toes quickly and formulate ideas and solutions on pace with what the standard IT pro considers daily routine. Management will, in some cases, need to be replaced by more IT-aware managers.
9: Continued advancement
All of these advances we are making in the field of automation will only help to create a demand for more. As businesses evolve towards automation, we will find that there are newer and better "things" that can be done. As those discoveries happen, the need for IT pros that can make them happen will grow and grow. Although automation could signal a decrease in certain sectors, it will only help to grow the IT field.
10: Decision making
The latest Tech Pro Research survey revealed concerns over implementing automation that included comments such as "Do not think human judgment per each situation can be automated" and "Machines—even intelligent ones—are still purely based on logic; machines don't have intuition or sympathy" and "There are nuances in decision making that cannot be duplicated via software." These limitations suggest a viable future for IT pros who can make critical business and technological decisions that won't be overtaken by automation.
Set your fears aside. Automation isn't going to displace IT in any significant shape or form. In fact, the more automated our systems grow, the more businesses will depend on IT to keep them evolving and running smoothly.
How do you think automation will affect the IT landscape? Are you taking steps to expand your skills or pursue a different field in case automation takes your job away? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.
- AI, Automation, and Tech Jobs (ZDNet special feature)
- Executive's guide to AI and the future of IT jobs (free ebook)
- AI and the Future of Business (ZDNet special feature)
- Executive's guide to AI in business (free ebook)
- Why AI could destroy more jobs than it creates, and how to save them
- Why you shouldn't worry about a robot stealing your job
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.