Automation is relentless. Basic automation takes simple, rudimentary tasks and automates them. Yet as AI grows more powerful and versatile, jobs that once seemed safe from automation may now be at risk of vanishing — forever.
Employers can save time and money by investing in automation, especially within IT, says Kevin Beasley, CIO at ERP software provider VAI. "CIOs are currently looking for a technology stack that improves efficiency through automation, but also allows IT teams to focus on innovative projects that improve business outcomes," he explains. On the other hand, many enterprises are facing an IT talent shortage. Automation can help fill the gap by eliminating routine tasks, allowing IT leaders to focus on existing skilled talent without increasing labor cost.
The question of which IT jobs automation will eliminate next isn't new. "For example, we have over the past several years automated many of the tools used for the maintenance of business applications and operating software," says Jeremy Kushner an advisor at IT support firm BACS Consulting Group. "We've also automated [network] monitoring and alerting." Now, machine learning tools and algorithms are opening new doors by automating network predictive maintenance and fraud detection tasks.
The IT operations jobs most vulnerable to automation are related to routine operations, such as first contact help/service desks, data center operations, technology problem resolution experts, and software testing, says Ola Chowning, a partner at technology research firm ISG. Automation's greatest benefit is quality, she notes. "In operations, the ability to learn from previous similar events, analyze, and then apply the action best predicted to resolve the event occurs much more quickly and more dependably with automation and cognitive [technology] applied."
Chatbots are taking over many assistance/service desks while AI-driven automation is fueling the rapid decline of help desk agent jobs, Chowning says. Similarly, the expansion of cloud-based infrastructure at the enterprise level in data center operations for monitoring and installation/deployment, and the use of autonomation using AI and ML at the platform level, particularly in cloud, will pose a threat to many current job holders. "Testers will continue to see a job market depletion as both RPA-like rote automation and AI- and ML-fueled test automation tools are applied to exercise code with much more sophistication and with far greater velocity and accuracy," she predicts.