IT Automation and ITOA Will Change and Create Jobs More Than Kill Them

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAJUAAAAJDM1ZjA3ZDkxLTkyYzEtNDcxZi1iZGY3LTM0MzhlNzE1YTgwOQI have been spending a lot of time the past 3 years working with CIOs and vendors in the IT Automation, Information Technology Operations Analytics (ITOA) and Predictive Technology / Machine Learning markets.

One of the ancillary discussions among the enterprise C level execs and the IT workforce is how this new technology will effect the workforce.  The C level execs are interesting in the case studies that show the cost savings from implementing these technologies and the IT workers are interested in understanding whether or not they are going to be replaced with technology.

Ultimately, enterprise decisions will be made on cost savings, increases in productivity, increases in available knowlege (i.e. Business and Operations Intelligence) and Return on Investment (ROI). And, as with any Paradigm Shift in technology, there will be some changes in job requirements that will impact some workers.

However, I believe that ultimately, there will be net positive gain in the number of jobs due to the implementation and evolution of  IT Automation, Information Technology Operations Analytics (ITOA) and Predictive Technology / Machine Learning.

Case Studies

As an example, I have been working with Yotta Data Technologies to secure their initial set of clients for their Yotta Data Managment platform.  Yotta Data Management [YDM] leverages the same powerful open source technology that powers the world’s largest web sites and data platforms. Yotta Data Technologies has designed YDM to provide organizations with the flexibility to create a single provider solution that fits their needs. These services are available from data centers around the globe, providing the ultimate in flexibility at very disruptive price points.

YDM features the YottaSearch™ big data search platform, an intuitive data hub developed by YDT for organizations of all sizes and locales.  YottaSearch integrates powerful technology to crawl, process, index, search and analyze large volumes of structured and unstructured data.  Additional YDM modules provide a wide range of data management, document management and collaboration tools.

What I have found during the implementation discussions for the YDM platform is the enterprises don’t have the required talent to “drive” the the YDM platform(s) nor analyze the results.  Therefore, these enterprises are looking to “re-train” current employees, hire additional employees or outsource to “Managed Services” organizations that have the talent and can support / fulfill their requirements.

In another example, I have also been working with Evolven, an ITOA vendor that enables the Enterprise to analyze large amounts of complex IT data (Big Data) from multiple and desperate sources, find root causes of critical system failures and suggest corrective actions.  Evolven also has a staff of PhDs in Applied Mathematics that are providing the foundational algorithms for a very sophisticated and rich Predictive Analytics offering that can actually use this same complex IT data and predict system and other critical failures.

Obviously, in the case of very complex “root causes” of system failure, it would be literally impossible for the IT operations staff to even understand what had happened.  Best case for them, would be a re-boot and a hope that it didn’t happen again. So, in regards to whether or not Evolven causes job loss, I would say that Evolven provides a dramatic augmentation to the current IT Operations staff and opens up the requirement for additional staff to investigate new and innovative ways to use Evolven to reduce down time, increase productivity and to ultimately have a positive effect on the “bottom line”.

What Is the Industry Saying?

In an article published on November 5, 2016 by Steve Lohr, on the New York Times Bits Blog, titled, “Automation will Changes Job More Than Kill Them“, Mr. Lohr states, “Today’s automation fears essentially rest on two assumptions. First, the speed of advances in digital software and hardware is faster than in previous waves of technological change. And second, clever software and machines are increasingly able to automate cognitive tasks, not just physical ones. Artificial intelligence, it seems, poses a new kind of threat to jobs — not so much replacing muscle but brains.”

The full text of the Lohr article is as follows:

Smart software and robots are not poised to wipe out large numbers of American jobs, but technology-driven automation will affect most every occupation and can change work, according to new research from McKinsey.

The report, published on Friday and written by two members of the McKinsey Global Institute, the consulting firm’s research arm, and another McKinsey employee, adds a twist to the debate over the likely nature and pace of automation in the workplace.

Today’s automation fears essentially rest on two assumptions. First, the speed of advances in digital software and hardware is faster than in previous waves of technological change. And second, clever software and machines are increasingly able to automate cognitive tasks, not just physical ones. Artificial intelligence, it seems, poses a new kind of threat to jobs — not so much replacing muscle but brains.

Looking at the trends in artificial intelligence, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, researchers at Oxford University,estimated in a paper published two years ago that 47 percent of American jobs were at risk from automation.

The McKinsey research suggests a different kind of impact, at least over the next three to five years, which is the time span of its analysis. The McKinsey study found that less than 5 percent of jobs can be entirely automated using “currently demonstrated technologies,” which it describes as technologies that are either in the marketplace or in research labs.

Instead, the new research focuses on work below the occupation level, down to some 2,000 different types of work activities in some 800 occupations, using the definitions of a project sponsored by the Department of Labor. Applying that lens, the researchers concluded that 45 percent of work activities could be automated, which could affect people in many different roles.

The work ripe for automation is not just routine tasks in lower-paying jobs. “Most high-wage, high-skill jobs have a significant amount of activity that can be automated,” said Michael Chui, a principal at the McKinsey Global Institute, and a co-author of the report.

Jobs where some portion of activities could be automated include physicians, financial managers and senior corporate executives. At the apex of the corporate job ladder, chief executives, more than 20 percent of the work could be automated, McKinsey estimates. The C.E.O. chores that could be automated with machine-learning software include analyzing reports and data to make operating decisions, preparing staff assignments and reviewing status reports.

Landscapers and home health care workers are among the occupations less susceptible to automation than chief executives, according to McKinsey.

The value of the McKinsey research, experts said, is that it provides a fine-grained analysis of the impact of automation.

“It makes a lot of sense to look at automation at the task level, as a way to think about redefining jobs,” said Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management and co-author of “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.”

The McKinsey authors emphasized the potential for automation to enrich work, liberating people to focus on more creative tasks. Apparently there is a lot of room for improvement on that front. According to one calculation in the report, “just 4 percent of the work activities across the U.S. economy require creativity at median human level of performance.”

About Charles Skamser
Charles Skamser is an internationally recognized technology sales, marketing and product management leader with over 25 years of experience in Information Governance, eDiscovery, Machine Learning, Computer Assisted Analytics, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, IT Automation and ITOA. Charles is the founder and Senior Analyst for eDiscovery Solutions Group, a global provider of information management consulting, market intelligence and advisory services specializing in information governance, eDiscovery, Big Data analytics and cloud computing solutions. Previously, Charles served in various executive roles with disruptive technology start ups and well known industry technology providers. Charles is a prolific author and a regular speaker on the technology that the Global 2000 require to manage the accelerating increase in Electronically Stored Information (ESI). Charles holds a BA in Political Science and Economics from Macalester College.