Within the next few years, every industry and business will be fundamentally reimagined and rewired as a result of the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. This shift will have profound implications on work and what people and companies do to create value in the future. By 2022, the work we perform will be very different than it is today, with even more changes occurring by 2025. What does all this mean for IT infrastructure? The future of IT infrastructure is the mirror image of the future of work. Read on to find out how.
What is the future of work?
- Outsourcing rote tasks to machines will be the natural next step in human evolution. Machines will liberate us from the monotony of doing routine, redundant, and unfulfilling tasks in our day-to-day lives.
- In the digital economy, humans will still be needed to cater to the hopes and needs of other humans. We will move away from the old world of work and embrace the new world of work, which will utilize new tools of the trade (AI, machine learning, big data, augmented reality, etc.) to solve old problems and explore new opportunities.
- Intelligent machines will become our coworkers and we will establish strong partnerships with them to build new capabilities and new types of work.
- We will need to develop new skills in order to work interconnectedly and think in terms of the systems, tools, and processes that will be required to make the best use of machine-driven insights and capabilities.
What does the future of work mean for enterprise IT?
- Tomorrow’s IT must automate the manual work of organizing, communicating, and reporting on work and it must provide correct data at the right time so human knowledge workers can do their best work, faster than ever before. Through virtual intelligence assistants, IT will guide staff to provide better advice, improve decision-making, or make more relevant offers to customers. For example, the team at Amazon Web Services uses AI to improve employee efficiency and decision-making by suggesting the best places to focus their attention each day.
- Believe it or not, many companies still have highly-skilled IT professionals copying and pasting responses to incoming support tickets. Software bots will free up precious IT resources to focus on activities that require higher-order thinking. Hybrid IT staff will act as consulting partners, providing technical and integration services, as well as rapid prototyping and idea testing for businesses.
- When a software bot is programmed with self-learning capabilities, it can have a significant impact on businesses and IT. Imagine if your automated IT infrastructure could predict slowdowns or errors and determine how to avoid or fix them. For example, the American International Group deployed five “virtual engineers” inside its infrastructure to collect and analyze system performance data, working alongside human engineers to learn patterns and eventually act on their own to solve technical problems. These co-bots have resolved more than 145,000 incidents and returned 23,000 hours of productivity to human employees.
- New IT roles will emerge to support the future of work. Our 21 Jobs of the Future report reveals some of these new roles, such as Quantum Machine Learning Analyst, Man-Machine Teaming Manager, Master of Edge Computing, and Cyber City Analyst. IT must develop skills needed to handle the future of work.
Gone are the days when the IT department was solely responsible for infrastructure and operations, with a relentless focus on cost reduction. While the legacy IT industry of servers, databases, and cables is still important, it has essentially become a utility, taking a backseat to the need for an agile, flexible, and scalable technological foundation to drive business. Enterprises that view IT as a costly overhead rather than a competitive capability will struggle to succeed in the new machine age. Changing this mindset within IT and then selling the idea to the rest of the company, will be both a challenge and an opportunity for IT leaders.
My recent report, The Future of IT Infrastructure, provides insights into the changes leaders are making in their organizations’ technological infrastructures and examine the shifting nature of IT work, operations, performance metrics, and the jobs required to retool for the digital age. If reading is not your thing, you can check out the video.