One-quarter of all American jobs are at high risk of automation, and 2 billion jobs will be eliminated by 2030 due to shifting technologies and demand. Are your people and your technology ready for that?
As we near the beginning of a new decade, our obsession with newness, agility, and accessibility only continues to grow. To support our voracious appetite for the latest and greatest, we have created an impressive and albeit overwhelming conundrum of our own making. We want better technology, serving up faster solutions, replacing legacy options, and we want it yesterday. But who will support our need for real-time fixes, and how will businesses continue to remain competitive in a world where customer service and product innovation are no longer enough?
Transformation starts with automation
For business leaders, having to pivot based on market forces is nothing new. As the needs of customers change, so to do the services the business itself provides. But where previously this was as simple as building faster, or more efficiently, now remaining relevant will require learning and creating in the digital service space. To some organizations, this is uncharted territory, and a foreign, untapped opportunity. Surviving, let alone thriving, is complex in an era where technology evolution is happening at an alarming rate. Businesses are forced to innovate or fade slowly into the black void where landline phones and cassette tapes coexist in obsolescence.
So just how soon will this transformation into an automated workflow take place? It’s already happening. A small number of technology companies now control the world, and acquisitions happen at light speed. Organizations are not only competing with one another for relevancy, but they’re also competing with industry titans as well. Companies are able to outpace their competitors with one key differentiator to rule them all: cloud technology. By 2021, the percentage of all data center workloads in the Cloud is predicted to increase to 94 percent. Gone are the days when businesses competed solely with the best product. Now, instead, businesses race to take the lead with cloud technologies and the scalability, strategic agility, and flexibility that comes with it.
Leveraging cloud technology
Cloud transformation is not a process that happens overnight. It must be an intentional and sustainable evolution for the entire team or organization. Without a full commitment, a company may find itself with exciting new technologies their teams don’t know how to implement or maintain. New technologies require new skills from existing teams as well as training for new hires. Employees and employers alike feel the pressure of outdated skills. The insatiable appetite for new technology drives an insatiable need for continuous education.
The appetite to use cloud technology as a competitive weapon isn’t limited to tech companies — not by a long shot. As statistics continue to show, cloud automation is impacting every business and every employee. So, while the promise of innovative technology excites those in tech, it also has the potential to paralyze businesses and job-seekers in the rest of the business world.
Re-skill teams, don’t dismantle them
However, all is not lost for those businesses trudging on, encumbered by the cement shoes of legacy systems. And there is also hope on the horizon for those in careers where supply will soon outpace demand. The permanent solution for future-proofing yourself or your business is to dedicate time and resources for understanding and implementing not just cloud technology, but a sustainable way to learn and continuously hone the skills needed to build and maintain that technology for years to come.
In the past, automation simply meant replacing humans with technology. But in today’s complex global business and economic infrastructure, automation means a faster, better way of doing things, managed by a repurposed team of skilled humans. There is room for everyone in the future of technology advancement and employment, despite the fear-mongering that may attempt to convince you otherwise. Yes, automation and technology will replace a record-breaking number of jobs. But more and more jobs will require new skills to design, manage and maintain all that new tech.
With the average cost of on-boarding a new employee close to $4,125, it is the logical choice, both for scalability as well as financial reasons, to re-train and reimagine current roles, first. This cost also does not take into account the amount of institutional knowledge a lost employee took with them. It’s estimated that 42 percent of the skills and expertise needed to capably perform a role is only known by the person in that role. In an ideal, cloud-centric, user-first world, that employee would maintain their knowledge, learn new skills, and bring both to their existing employer.
Hidden potential, realized through new technology
And for the job-seekers wondering where they might fit in the cloud world, you aren’t alone. Rest assured that while some jobs may be eliminated, or filled with current, re-trained employees, there remains a tremendous unmet need for staff to run these systems. In 2018, the median income for cloud computing professionals was $146,350. Cloud computing is uniquely creating the potential for people to change their professional trajectories from unemployment to earning a six-figure salary that doesn’t necessarily require a four-year degree.
In order to meet the growing demand for skilled technology workers, companies like JP Morgan are even offering employment resources to increase their labor force. As CEO, Jamie Dimon states,
“The new world of work is about skills, not necessarily degrees. Unfortunately, too many people are stuck in low-skill jobs that have no future, and too many businesses cannot find the skilled workers they need. We must remove the stigma of a community college and career education, look for opportunities to up-skill or re-skill workers, and give those who have been left behind the chance to compete for well-paying careers today and tomorrow.”
It’s clear that, while we were all becoming entranced by the benefits of cloud technology, we neglected to notice the self-imposed skills gap created; both internally and externally. This is a problem that affects everyone, at every level. Where formerly businesses had an abundance of candidates to pull into a given organization, currently the unemployment rate for IT professionals is the lowest it has ever been and trending downward. This leaves only the option of upskilling current teams or waiting for more job automations to encourage career changes and eventual growth of the candidate pool. Linux Academy CEO Anthony James states,
“Accelerating cloud technologies continue to leave legacy systems and their workforces behind. The supply of skilled cloud practitioners lags far behind the demand for their services. The solution is for organizations to make continuous education part of their culture, to upskill their workforces, and to use cloud technology as a competitive advantage.”
Comprehensive training provides permanent solutions
Now, while this is great news for cloud professional hopefuls, it also means organizations must start training their people yesterday. It is imperative for organizations to upskill their teams the way they expect them to perform — around core competencies and skills, not certifications alone. Passing a certification test doesn’t necessarily qualify someone to do the work, it merely proves their memorization and test preparation. Businesses that are looking to build true cloud professionals will need to provide comprehensive training that shows proof of skills learned, in the scenarios in which they will later be performed.
Beyond certifications, the focus for learning at both the individual and organizational level should model every other successful professional field and include hands-on work. Then, once baseline cloud competencies are established, the focus can shift toward the evolution of those skills through continuing education. Whether organizations and individuals choose to remain relevant throughout the innovations and automations of the future will be fully determined by their own willingness to become agile, flexible, and indispensable. The ‘wait-and-see’ method simply doesn’t work for those looking to grow and transform. Fortunately, there’s never been a better time to pivot and learn something new. Making the choice to grow means better businesses, better teams, and a better future.