AI likely to impact employment in IT: Gartner

Gartner predicts that by 2022, smart machines and robots may replace highly trained professionals in areas of medicine, law and IT

AI likely to replace jobs in IT: Gartner - CIO&Leader

CIOs have a key role to play in preparing businesses for the impact that AI will have on business strategy and human employment, according to Gartner, Inc. Forecasts by Gartner suggests that by 2022, smart machines and robots may replace highly trained professionals in areas of medicine, law and IT.


"The economics of AI and machine learning will lead to many tasks performed by professionals today becoming low-cost utilities," said Stephen Prentice, Vice President and Gartner Fellow. "AI's effects on different industries will force the enterprise to adjust its business strategy. Many competitive, high-margin industries will become more like utilities as AI turns complex work into a metered service that the enterprise pays for, like electricity."


The effects that AI will have on organizations will rely on its industry, business, organization and customers. For example, as per Prentice, a lawyer undergoes a long, costly period of education and training. Any organization that recruits lawyers needs to pay large salary and provide benefits big enough to compensate for this training for each successive lawyer it hires. On the other hand, a smart machine which is used inplace of the lawyer also needs a long, costly period of training. However, after the first smart machine, the organization can add as many other smart machines as it wants for little extra cost.


Another industry where jobs can be automated is financial services, for example, automation of loan origination and insurance claims. However, while AI will impact employment numbers in some industries, many others will be profitable because AI and automation will handle routine and repetitive tasks, leaving more time for the current workforce to enhance service levels, manage more challenging aspects of the role and even reduce stress levels in some high-pressure environments.


CIOs Need to Prepare the Organization for Changes in Hiring Priorities

"Ultimately, AI and humans will differentiate themselves from each other," said Prentice. "AI is most successful in addressing problems that are reasonably well-defined and narrow in scope, whereas humans excel at defining problems that need to be solved and at solving complex problems. They bring a wide range of knowledge and skill to bear and can work through problems in various ways. They can collaborate with one another, and when situations change significantly, humans can adjust."


CIOs can use an organization's five-year vision to develop a plan to strike the right balance of AI and human skills as too much AI-driven automation can render the organization less flexible and less able to adjust to a changing competitive landscape. This approach will also enable to reassure employees about where and how AI will be used in the organization.


AI Will Challenge the CIO to Restructure IT Operations

Eventually, AI will replace many routine functions of the IT organization, especially on the operations side, such as in system administration, help desk, project management and application support.

Although some roles will no longer be there, yet AI will enhance some skills shortages, and the IT organization as a whole will increasingly focus on more creative work that differentiates itself.


"The CIO should commission the enterprise architecture team to identify which IT roles will become utilities and create a timeline for when these changes become possible," said Prentice. "Work with HR to ensure that the enterprise has a plan to mitigate any disruptions that AI will cause, such as offering training and upskilling to help operational staff to move into more-creative positions."

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