And, as much hand wringing occurs over the future of automation and robotics, some argue that there are innate human qualities that will remain in demand.
"We will likely see an increased demand for 'robot-proof' skills that continue to be uniquely suited to humans. Many soft skills tend to fall into this category of being more robot-proof than some of the more technical or 'hard' skills," says Jeremy Auger, chief strategy officer for Desire2Learn.
"Machines tend to be good at performing tasks that are narrow, describable, and repeatable," Auger adds, "making space for those jobs that require unpredictability. For example, interpersonal skills, collaborative qualities and workers who can draw from diverse experiences will continue to be in demand. However, indicators suggest that jobs involved in helping to advance technology are more resilient and tend to have a place working alongside robots."
In other words, the ineffable quality of adaptability will be that much more vital for future success in IT.
Headlines about automation and AI can be alarming. Gartner has even released a survey about the most hyperbolic terms used to describe the future of work, which frequently include "disrupt, steal or threaten." But most IT pros we surveyed see automation creating new opportunities - as long as we can establish a symbiotic relationship with the machines.
"Ultimately, anything that has enough data and repeatable patterns could end up transforming into an AI-driven process," says Box's Chapman. "The shift is to have people focus on the higher-value work and less on the mundane tasks. Another sizable shift is the one affecting touch, text and talk interactions with backend services, which is moving away from the disparate point-and-click interfaces we have in place today."
Alongside this evolution in the foundation of how we interact with machines will be greater meshing between humans and machine intelligence when it comes to business processes and decision-making.
"We're seeing clients starting pilots for complex decision making," Booz Allen Hamilton's Zutavern says, "optimizing large IT portfolios, and responding to adaptive cyber intrusions."
Andrew Filev, CEO of work management platform Wrike, agrees. Filev's company worked with AirBnB's marketing and IT teams to create an automated process that triggers new projects, duplicates timelines and automates updates from contributors to AirBnB's new Trip Experiences product.
"The future of IT is more systems that are automated in this way, and also more integrated across systems and teams," Filev says. "Automation can produce more visibility and faster communication. Together with automation, AI and work management are opening doors for improved processes within companies."
Julie Moss-Woods, chief innovation officer of Tata Communications, sees the evolution of automation in digital strategies setting the stage for a more responsive IT work experience.
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