What Does IT Have to Fear from AI?

    June 14, 2017

    By Steve Mason

    The AI revolution is in full swing across nearly every industry. Should IT professionals worry about how this new technology will impact them?

    The transition into the digital age is well underway for many companies around the globe.

    In Computerworld Tech’s 2017 Forecast, 78 percent of the 196 IT leaders who participated said they were either keeping pace with or well into the rate of digital transformation experienced by competitors. Overall, CIOs and other tech leaders are optimistic about the future when it comes to their digital initiatives. In fact, business and IT are finally working together towards the same goals.

    While enterprises continue to pour more energy and effort into big data, analytics, cloud computing, and SaaS, forecasters don’t expect budgets to scale at the same rate.

    In order to meet the growing demand for advancement while maintaining cost-effectiveness, IT teams will turn towards automation in the coming year rather than hiring additional staff to take on additional tasks.

    “Tech staffing will generally remain flat or decrease at seven out of ten organizations,” according to the forecast.  

    This troubling probability begs the question: should IT professionals worry about the integration of AI and other forms of automation?

    The Cost of Doing Business

    A study from McKinsey & Company shows that 45 percent of the activities individuals are currently paid to do can be automated by simply adapting available technology, saving $16 trillion in wages.

    Most industries, from manufacturing to marketing, utilize some form of a hybrid AI workforce to improve their workflow, avoid mistakes, and leverage the power of big data.

    While IT executives aim for efficiency moving forward, they will turn to similar automated and AI-driven processes to handle what founder and CEO of IPSoft Chetan Dube calls IT engineering “chores.” With these changes will come a need for IT managers to adjust the way they think about their networks.

    “IT managers need to think about how they adapt to managing automated processes rather than organizing their functions around the more limited capacity of manual workers,” Dube said in an interview with CIO.com. “This is a massive shift in mindset, but it will lead to greater opportunity for more highly skilled and varied job roles.”

    All of this means that every member of IT, from executives to rank-and-file tech employees, must ensure that their skillsets adapt alongside advancements in AI technology. New roles such as Chief Data Intelligence Officer will emerge as the demand for data scientists and analysts grow.

    “Another example is a demand for candidates within AI organizations who combine skills in mathematical logic with knowledge of the human mind in order to automate activities that can improve quality and speed of service across all industries,” Dube adds.

    Improving with Advanced Tech

    As with all change, the prospects of a future inundated with artificial intelligence may cause some IT professionals to panic and fear replacement. However, these changes bring with them a chance for IT teams to focus on the more creative work of making new, innovative services, or finding workarounds to problems in current ones.

    While it is yet to be seen how effective AI can be at replacing human workers, advanced technology has already proven that it can make current workers more efficient and effective.

    Tasks that were once performed by a human—monitoring, reporting, and analyzing IT resources—no longer need to be. Today, IT teams can produce real-time reports and monitor the health of their systems with predictive algorithms rather than firefight issues as they present themselves.

    For example, the Vityl suite from TeamQuest has automated many of these tasks and helped many companies avoid costly overprovisioning and outages.

    Technology doesn’t need to be feared. Instead, people should focus on how it improves their lives while developing the skillsets to remain relevant in their field. AI technology will be no different.

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    Category: it-ops