Technology is changing the world of work. Nothing new, let alone radical or revolutionary there, you might argue. This trend has been going on for at least a couple of decades now. In fact, ever since the PC was introduced to the workplace during the eighties, we have witnessed a steady succession of transformational technologies, from the internet to the smartphone, with all the changes these have brought to the work floor. Only now the IT worker too will be strongly affected by these changes.
Not that technology-based careers didn’t evolve in the past. But they definitely didn’t change at the same breakneck speed as many other professions had to. Nor did they necessarily change so profoundly.
Jobs come, change and go.
To begin with, there’s the impact of emerging technologies such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) or, more specifically, Machine Learning on the actual IT jobs themselves. It seems safe to assume there will always be a certain need for software engineering, to name but one example. Nevertheless, the demand for professional programmers is certain to diminish. Furthermore, as machines take over the actual code writing, the job content of the remaining programmers will inevitably change. Other tasks such as testing, which improves the quality of the code, will probably gain in importance.
There are two sides to every coin, however, and with emerging technologies also come emerging jobs. Artificial intelligence architect, machine learning engineer, blockchain developer: those are just a few of the new job profiles that have already been created, as new technologies are finding their way into the workplace faster than ever.
The simple, unmistakable fact is that, even while those new technologies are replacing some jobs, they are also creating new work in industries that most of us cannot even imagine. According to the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), a third of the new jobs created in the US in the past 25 years did not exist, or barely existed, in areas including IT development, hardware manufacturing, app creation and IT systems management. Likewise, the growing role of big data in our economy is set to create a significant need for statisticians and data analysts. MGI estimates a shortfall of up to 250,000 data scientists in the US alone in a decade.
Intelligent, discerning IT professionals recognise that their roles will not stay the same. Whether out of sheer necessity or genuine interest, the IT worker of the 21st century will constantly be learning, if only to stay current with technology trends. Luckily, those same technologies, such as social networks and virtual platforms, can also be used to support and improve the learning process.
In my next blog post, I will take a closer look at how technology has affected IT training as well as project management.