These days nearly every company is at some stage of the digital transformation journey, and one thing they’ve all learned is that their technology stack has become exponentially more complex and difficult to manage as a result. Given that complexity, you would think that IT is as one of the more future-proof vocations under the sun. Right?
Sure. Until you consider the impact of AI and automation. Then one’s bright, clear vision of the future starts to look a little hazy.
A recent report from PwC predicts that, across a wide swath of industries, AI is set to displace about 20% of jobs over the next 20 years. And with the advent of AI technologies developed with the explicit purpose of automating IT workflows (AIOps), the situation can seem especially dire for the SysAdmins and L1/L2 operators that are in the trenches and performing a lot of manual tasks just to keep the lights on.
Might the rise of AIOps soon spell certain doom for ordinary carbon-based IT personnel?
Not likely. Let me explain why.
The Impact of AIOps on Job Security
Here’s a quick word of advice: always read past the headline.
The very PwC report previously cited doesn’t seem nearly as grim once you get to the punchline: AI will create just as many new jobs for humans, if not more, in the same time period. So it should all even out, right?
Yes and no.
The role of the IT worker will change as their companies deploy AI to automate out inefficiencies. And it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” a company will embrace AI.
The role of the IT worker will change as their companies deploy AI to automate out inefficiencies. And it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” a company will embrace AI. Currently, Gartner predicts that by 2020 40% of companies will have implemented AIOps platforms.
And with the ability to drastically reduce detection and recovery times — Royal Bank of Canada, for example, reports a decrease of 35% and 43%, respectively — it’s no wonder companies are rapidly adopting this technology. But much like how Photoshop didn’t kill the wedding photography business and AutoCAD didn’t eliminate the need for draftsmen, IT workers will evolve alongside the technology.
I’m not the only one with a cheery outlook. We recently spoke with Danny Mu, Principal Analyst for CIOs at Forrester, who insists that the supposed threat represented by AIOps is largely unfounded.
“I don’t think this should lead to fear or concern,” Mu says. “The normal work of IT professionals, especially those in operations roles, tends to be tedious and not exactly fun. There can be lots of urgent issues, often popping up deep in the night. These new, efficient tools for automation and problem-solving will only be a help to these folks.”
Leaps in Productivity and Impact Through AI
If anything, the introduction of AIOps should be cause for celebration by IT workers everywhere. Building and maintaining knowledge base articles is a great example of something nobody has time to do and is automated by Moogsoft’s AIOps platform.
One of our customers, whose application boasts hundreds of millions of active users, has reported that they were able to detect incidents more than 24 hours before corresponding tickets were created by IBM Netcool. The ability to receive early warning of a problem, and to take action before things blow up, only sets the IT worker up for success in their role. And perhaps even some well-earned acknowledgement from their employer.
So while narrow-band, use case-specific AI such as AIOps is here and helping IT teams automate routine tasks, the reality is that it’s also showing us that human input is just as vital within the next generation IT landscape. While AI can be an amazingly powerful tool, it is still just that: a tool to make your job easier.
Conversely, the kind of dystopian “strong AI” wherein a machine replaces a human being’s intuition, creativity, imagination, and common sense flat out doesn’t exist. No one has it and its impact on humanity is completely theoretical.
I, for one, call B.S. on all the fear-mongering, and think that AI will allow the role of IT to expand and evolve.
IT operations specialists will have more time to focus on architecture enhancement and better collaboration with development teams,” says Mu. “Sometimes the heavy ops tasks prevent an architecture revolution, because keeping systems always online is the main KPI for ops folks. AIOps can make a difference.”
With the freedom to spend more time on strategic and creative tasks of higher value, each worker should naturally become more productive and impactful. Freed from an endless morass of alerts, tickets, and inefficient workflows, IT will finally have the chance to get ahead of the curve.
And that will be a first for many in the field.
About the author Matt Harper
Matthew Harper is VP of Corporate Marketing at Moogsoft. Previously, Matt held senior leadership roles at Glassdoor, Sony (PlayStation), and EQ Magazine.