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BW Businessworld

Will Automation In The IT Sector Create New Job Opportunities?

Undoubtedly, increasing automation will lead to job losses but it will open up new avenues as well; constant up-gradation of skills will be the key to stay relevant

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The media reports have lately been abuzz with the futuristic reports where it is claimed that due to automation, half of the jobs will be eaten up soon. Recently, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO recently commented that artificial intelligence (AI) is ‘vastly more risky than North Korea’ as it will lead to massive job losses.

Vidur Gupta, Director, Spectrum Talent Management, a global HR service provider told BW Businessworld, “Artificial intelligence and increasing automation is going to decimate middle-class jobs, worsening inequality and risking significant political upheaval. By 2021, one in four jobs may be lost to automation. The impact will be particularly high in highly populated developing nations where manpower is cheap. With the cost of manpower growing steadily and high focus on automation, the first will be transactional jobs which are very structured. For example, a teller needs to check the account balance, match the person withdrawing the money and dispense. This is now being done by ATMs.”

So, does this mean more than 50 per cent of the people will be unemployed in the coming years? Well, not really, with some doors closing, fast evolving technology will open some new opportunities as well. Sumit Sood, Managing Director, GlobalLogic told BW Businessworld, “With the changing dynamics of the IT industry, today’s IT professionals need to be proactive in learning new skills. While automation maybe killing jobs, I see it as an opportunity for individuals to react to the situation with skilled learning.”

With the digitalisation of almost everything, people will be required to handle the software for the proper functioning of things. “There is going to be an increasing demand for skills around automation, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, user experience, IoT and more. At the entry and mid-level, we expect a strong demand for skills like Web and Product Development, Telecom &Mobile Application Development, Java Development, Microsoft Technologies, Network and Information Security, UI/UX Designer, Web Architecture, Cloud and Distributed Computing, Statistical and Data Analysis and Middleware and Integration Software,” added Sood.

 

Artificial intelligence will surely make things go automatic but there will still be a need for humans to closely monitor and control the machines. “New jobs are slated to be created in the field of ‘AI’ itself. Self-driving vehicles may need remote operators to cope with emergencies or ride-along concierges who knock on doors and manhandle packages. Corporate chatbot and customer-service AIs will need to be built and trained and have dialogue written for them (AI firms are said to be busy hiring poets); they will have to be constantly updated and maintained, just as websites are today. And no matter how advanced artificial intelligence becomes, some jobs are always likely to be better done by humans, notably those involving empathy or social interaction. Doctors, therapists, hairdressers and personal trainers fall into that category,” explained Gupta.

A handful of modern studies have also noted that there’s often a positive relationship between new technology and increasing employment—in manufacturing firms, across all sectors, and specifically in firms that adopted computers.

 

“People are going to need to be skilled, or the machines are going to have to be designed in such a way that people can work with them, we have only begun to see the true potential of what technology can do for employees and for productivity while automation has put millions of jobs at risk in the IT services sector, I believe it is a part of the transition and therefore the need of skill up-gradation for all kinds of employees is imperative,” said Sood.

 

However, it cannot be denied that automation will impact jobs in retail, banks, construction, and manufacturing. Thus, saving job will be possible only when one constantly re-skills himself/ herself. Commenting on the need for constant up-gradation of skill sets, Sood said, “One should have analytic techniques and should be able to place small bets on a variety of options which should remain agile along with being lean. Another thing that people need to start doing is investing in themselves. The Indian IT industry is best at cross training; I think people who are ready to take the shift will make this change.”

 

The future is not about machines surpassing humans but more about the co-existence of both. Rakesh Barik, Director, Consulting, Deloitte, India told BW Businessworld "In this new era “Enterprises” are becoming lean, focused around innovation and willing to disrupt their business. Machine learning, bots, and robotics solutions are augmenting and automating human tasks and the bond between minds and machine is one of the most powerful elements in human evolution. The future is not a race between the two; the future is actually in humans and machines working together in a connected ecosystem. Machine intelligence will represent the next chapter in the advanced analytics journey.”


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