Main image of article Will ‘Smart Machines’ Decimate Tech Jobs?
Market pressures to embrace digitization will transform an array of industries – and IT staffs as well, according to a recent Gartner forecast. RobotA digital workforce, comprised of robots and automated machines, has the potential to "significantly devalue and/or displace millions of humans in the workforce," says Kenneth Brant, Research Director at the firm. He noted that a multifaceted marketplace for engineering a "digital workforce" already exists. This marketplace includes intelligent agents, virtual reality assistants, expert systems and embedded software to make traditional machines "smart" in a specialized ways. Additionally, there’s a new generation of low-cost and easy-to-train robots and automated machines that were built for specific purposes. Similarly, a Forrester report foresees an increase of “smart computing” using sensors, networks and analytics software to manage physical assets and infrastructure over the Internet in real time.

Workforce Transformation

While 60 percent of CEOs believe that the emergence of smart machines capable of absorbing millions of middle-class jobs within 15 years is a "futurist fantasy," Gartner foresees deep business impact in the next seven years, with "machine-driven job elimination overwhelming the market's ability to create valuable new ones" in the coming decades. Machines are evolving from automating basic tasks to becoming advanced self-learning systems, leading Gartner to predict the next wave of job losses will be among highly valued specialists. That could put a dent into the line of thinking that if robots are to proliferate, somebody has to build them. Would it be possible for robots to eventually program themselves? Gartner says the digital future will require new approaches to information delivery, communication and transactions, which will require business leaders and CIOs to carefully assess their staffing needs. Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst with the Altimeter Group, however, pointed out to that for every study predicting lost jobs, another extols the new opportunities – and there will continue to be new opportunities as we become a more technology -- and data -- dependent economy.