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Even as technologies such as video conferencing and messaging platforms used during forced remote work are now widely adopted, some workers remain wary of technology in the workforce. New research shows us that only 50% of employees see technology as a strong asset for efficiency.
IT teams are currently driving the implementation of technology innovation for their organizations, and so is IT optimization planned to be the third largest AI use case by 2025, with an annual growth rate of 29.7%. But with pop culture spreading doom and gloom about AI’s role in job hiring, does that mean IT teams should be concerned about their job security? Will they be another victim of aging due to AI?
A knee-jerk response to AI in the workforce is to eliminate the need for IT teams as machine learning (ML) can more efficiently and cost-effectively serve the team’s core purpose. Fear of automation is not a new concept: today 37% of employees are concerned about losing their jobs due to automation.
Automation and unemployment are not synonymous
However, they can rest easy. The truth is that automation does not lead to job losses as we think; it could be the opposite. South Korea, that’s the most automated country in the world, saw the unemployment rate hit a record low August 2022. Singapore and Japan, the next two most automated countries, also have unemployment rates well below global averageindicating that automation and unemployment are not directly correlated.
How can we explain the discrepancy between perception and reality? It’s not a job loss; it is job evolution. Automation enables IT teams to take a more strategic place for themselves within their organization. AI can play a major role in reducing the number of routine tasks that need to be performed manually, such as troubleshooting applications or responding to service tickets.
The less time teams can spend on this, the more they can spend on projects that will change the needle within the organization, such as developing new applications that allow companies to enter new markets, increasing manageability and reducing hardware costs. These changes in roles will give these employees a better sense of fulfillment and purpose in their organization and ensure that they are seen as more valuable assets.
The question becomes, “How do we get there?”
The value of AI in IT
IT cannot be fully automated and never should be. Employees seek human interaction to feel that their concerns are being listened to and that support is tailored to them. IT staff must leverage their greatest assets: interpersonal communication and long-term strategy/innovation. These are two concepts that AI will never be able to replicate.
The truth value of AI is the ability to proactively identify issues and provide actionable insights that IT teams can use to address problems before they arise and optimize their systems for long-term performance.
One of the goals of AI is to improve the digital employee experience. Employees lose hours of work due to technology issues, and these issues also lower morale when employees feel inadequately supported by their company.
Automation fixes this: detecting a problem before an employee can report it saves time and resources; employees, in turn, feel better connected to the organization. In the long run, this will help slow staff turnover, support innovation – and by extension, help explain lower unemployment rates amid automation.
So, where are IT teams? The answer is in strategy sessions with senior leadership, where they belong. The days of responding to service requests as the dominant IT responsibility are shifting further and further away. With more free time, they can focus on proactive activities and strategies for a better workflow. Automation paves the way for IT to be seen as the strategic leaders they are rather than putting out ad hoc tech fires – they won’t go out of business; they will drive the organization forward and advance its digital transformation initiatives.
AI poses no threat to IT teams. Instead, it enables them to better demonstrate their value and importance within their organizations. As tough economic conditions remain top of mind, business leaders will consider where they can cut costs. Unfortunately, some will make layoffs.
However, teams that can demonstrate their value to the organization and the outcome may be better off when it comes to those decisions. Instead of seeing AI as a threat, IT professionals should see it as their new colleague of choice, one that will free them from menial tasks and focus on what has the most impact and help them grow within their business.
AI will not eliminate the role of IT; it will transform it. Both IT departments and entire organizations benefit from this.
Yassine Zaied is Nexthink’s Chief Strategy Officer.
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