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Technology is Taking Roles
Insights

How Technology Is Changing Everyone’s Role

Monday, May 8, 2017
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“Robots are going to take my job!” 

Have you heard that around the office lately? As organizations digitize, many employees are concerned that technology will eliminate their jobs. While these concerns are understandable, don’t panic. These concerns don’t separate automation from “augmentation”—or innovations that create new markets and new opportunities, but will still require humans to be successful. In reality, digitization means that some jobs will become obsolete, but other jobs will be created, and far more jobs will evolve. 

For most employees today, the more important concern should be how technology is changing work and the skills they will need to be successful in the future. We recently analyzed more than 30 million job descriptions posted by all company functions and business lines between 2012 and 2016 that asked for technology-specific skills and experience. From this analysis, we identified a few key trends about the changes technology is bringing to many jobs. 

Technology Is Important to Everyone – Not Just IT 

Technology and data are critical to the operations of nearly all corporate functions, customer channels, products, and services. Many employees assume that the growing importance of technology mainly affects the IT function. And to be fair, as the company’s traditional “technologists,” IT is certainly impacted. But the ability to manage and exploit technology in more sophisticated ways is critical to almost every role. 

According to the research, nearly 80 percent of business leaders have hired staff with technical skills or experience to get work done, rather than rely solely on IT, and more than 75 percent of employees use analytics tools and technologies in their daily jobs. The rise of digital marketing, products delivered online, and the growing use of the cloud outside IT all help explain this trend—and it continues. Between 2012 and 2016, there was a 60 percent increase in the number of references to technology skills and experience in job listings for roles outside IT. 

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Technology Skills Go Beyond Computer Literacy 

While many functions have expected employees to have computer literacy in the past, today’s job descriptions for roles in HR, finance, and other departments include references to technology skills and experience in areas such as “solutions design” and “user interface” that were previously only found in the IT group. Functions outside of IT are also investing in people with advanced analytics skills and skills needed to lead digital projects and manage technology vendors. 

More Security Skills, Please 

High-profile breaches and new types of threats have led to increased attention on cybersecurity and are transforming information security. In fact, chief information security officers now spend close to 20 percent of their time preparing for and presenting to their board, giving them more visibility than ever before.

The total count of full-time IT security staff has increased in line with this attention—from 2.7 percent of all IT employees in 2012 to 3.6 percent in 2016. And while most security skills have historically been found in IT, we’ve also seen a significant rise in demand for security-related skills in Marketing and Finance job descriptions.

Never before has technology been as essential to business success as it is today. The shift toward digitization places new expectations on all employees. They need to be able to lead and contribute to technology projects, handle the demand for rapid innovation, and adapt to new ways of delivering products and services. Regardless of department, all employees will feel the effects of technology on their jobs and expectations in the future. So for most people, it’s not the robots they need to worry about, it’s whether they have the technology knowledge and experience to keep up with the demands of the jobs they have, or the future jobs they want.

About the Author

Andrew Horne, an IT practice leader at CEB bow Gartner, has worked with thousands of chief information officers (CIOs) globally over the last 17 years to understand how technology enables new ways of working, business models, products, and services. Most recently, Andrew and his team have focused on helping CIOs navigate fast-changing business needs: preparing for board-level conversations about digital transformations, influencing and advising peers on technology decision making outside of IT, and designing a more adaptive, service-based IT organization. He has authored numerous global studies on topics including IT strategy development, business intelligence and big data, accelerating IT clock speed, and IT innovation.

About the Author

As Talent Solutions Architect at CEB, Jean Martin directs the development of talent management solutions and insights across the company with heads of human resources at some of the largest global organizations. Specifically, Jean spends time working on issues relating to driving breakthrough organizational performance, and assessing, engaging and retaining the best employees.

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