Guest Post by Gil Artmoore
It's no secret to anyone who has lived through the last several decades that technology has radically changed just about every aspect of our lives. Try to imagine living without smartphones, Facebook, and Google in today's world. It's revolutionized our professional lives as well. Digitization has also had a significant effect on the IT (Information Technology) job market. IT workers have had to continually adjust to an ever-shifting set of demands that also offer tremendous new opportunities to those who want them. Far from the classic figure of the coal miner put on the street when the world evolved past a need for their services, IT is an industry that almost always replaces older functions with opportunities for growth. Let's look at some of the ways the digitization of the workplace has changed the way we work, how it has affected the job market for IT professionals, and what kinds of opportunities it will bring to IT professionals in the future.
How Automation Changed The IT Job Market
The early part of this century saw a dramatic shift from jobs that required no expertise with digital systems to ones where people couldn't get by without those skills. Everything moved toward jobs that require knowledge with digital systems, and as you might expect, this became a huge boon for IT professionals who manage the systems everyone needed to start using. The next revolution came years later, when a drive for increased efficiency demanded systems that required less manual touchpoints. This wasn't always an easy transition for IT professionals, and while it did create a skills gap for some years, the workforce has largely adapted and is ready to move with the digital workplace into the 21st century.
The New Opportunities Automation Has Created
Automation and the digital workplace have had a substantial effect on the IT job market, and while that initially looked like a net negative that would eliminate jobs, it instead transformed and relocated them. One of the most visible ways this manifested itself was in the rise of cloud computing. Cloud computing is an arrangement where, instead of owning, operating, and maintaining servers and other infrastructure equipment internally, companies now have the ability to pay outside vendors like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to host those services on their servers. This did initially lead to the elimination of many IT jobs for system administrators who were there to maintain and administer in-house servers and network equipment, but the flip side is that the cloud vendors needed to hire people to maintain those systems once they were in charge of them. Literally their entire business revolved around running servers for their customers, and they needed someone to manage the physical hardware. As a result, system administrators went from being support staff at law firms, financial services companies, or wherever they worked, to driving revenue at a company whose entire business was being one big IT department. Another major net positive the change in the IT job market brought to IT professionals was that remote work became not only feasible, but commonplace. Given that cloud computing commonly operates on distributed systems (meaning the same data and functions are duplicated across and run from systems often separated by hundreds or thousands of miles), there's no single data center to manage like most companies had in years gone by. Without needing to be physically present to manage the systems, many administrators have gotten a greater work/life balance in this new arrangement. Finally, IT work has become more collaborative and made employees who may not be in close proximity to each other a lot more equal than they used to be. Many companies have traditionally had IT employees at corporate HQ, and local IT teams at other offices who often felt like they were on the outside looking in when it came to having their voices heard or being considered for opportunities. The nature of cloud computing mitigates that dynamic to a great degree, and provides a more level playing field for IT staff no matter where they're located.
The advent of the digital workplace has not only not led to the prosperity of the IT labor force, but has even eliminated many of the difficulties and frustrations associated with IT work in years gone by. Many companies have begun enjoying the benefits of using modern technology to build internal structure, and IT professionals will continue to enjoy the benefits of a more focused IT career for many years to come.
About the Author
Gil Artmoore has spent the past decade working in various roles in IT departments for many businesses both small and large. Recently, Gil started writing out the things he has learned, experienced, and witnessed in the small business and tech world during his career. He is eager to share his insights with the rest of the world.