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The Digital Workplace – How It’s Changing the IT Job Market

Guest Post by Gil Artmoore

The Digital Workplace - How It's Changing the IT Job Market

It’s no secret to anyone who has lived through the last several decades that technology has radically changed just about every aspect of our lives.   Try to imagine living without smartphones, Facebook, and Google in today’s world. It’s revolutionized our professional lives as well.

Digitization has also had a significant effect on the IT (Information Technology) job market. IT workers have had to continually adjust to an ever-shifting set of demands that also offer tremendous new opportunities to those who want them.  Far from the classic figure of the coal miner put on the street when the world evolved past a need for their services, IT is an industry that almost always replaces older functions with opportunities for growth.

Let’s look at some of the ways the digitization of the workplace has changed the way we work, how it has affected the job market for IT professionals, and what kinds of opportunities it will bring to IT professionals in the future.

How Automation Changed The IT Job Market

The early part of this century saw a dramatic shift from jobs that required no expertise with digital systems to ones where people couldn’t get by without those skills.  Everything moved toward jobs that require knowledge with digital systems, and as you might expect, this became a huge boon for IT professionals who manage the systems everyone needed to start using.

The next revolution came years later, when a drive for increased efficiency demanded systems that required less manual touchpoints.  This wasn’t always an easy transition for IT professionals, and while it did create a skills gap for some years, the workforce has largely adapted and is ready to move with the digital workplace into the 21st century.

The New Opportunities Automation Has Created

Automation and the digital workplace have had a substantial effect on the IT job market, and while that initially looked like a net negative that would eliminate jobs, it instead transformed and relocated them.  One of the most visible ways this manifested itself was in the rise of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is an arrangement where, instead of owning, operating, and maintaining servers and other infrastructure equipment internally, companies now have the ability to pay outside vendors like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to host those services on their servers.

This did initially lead to the elimination of many IT jobs for system administrators who were there to maintain and administer in-house servers and network equipment, but the flip side is that the cloud vendors needed to hire people to maintain those systems once they were in charge of them.   Literally their entire business revolved around running servers for their customers, and they needed someone to manage the physical hardware.  As a result, system administrators went from being support staff at law firms, financial services companies, or wherever they worked, to driving revenue at a company whose entire business was being one big IT department.

Another major net positive the change in the IT job market brought to IT professionals was that remote work became not only feasible, but commonplace.  Given that cloud computing commonly operates on distributed systems (meaning the same data and functions are duplicated across and run from systems often separated by hundreds or thousands of miles), there’s no single data center to manage like most companies had in years gone by.  Without needing to be physically present to manage the systems, many administrators have gotten a greater work/life balance in this new arrangement.

Finally, IT work has become more collaborative and made employees who may not be in close proximity to each other a lot more equal than they used to be.  Many companies have traditionally had IT employees at corporate HQ, and local IT teams at other offices who often felt like they were on the outside looking in when it came to having their voices heard or being considered for opportunities.  The nature of cloud computing mitigates that dynamic to a great degree, and provides a more level playing field for IT staff no matter where they’re located.

Conclusion

The advent of the digital workplace has not only not led to the prosperity of the IT labor force, but has even eliminated many of the difficulties and frustrations associated with IT work in years gone by.  Many companies have begun enjoying the benefits of using modern technology to build internal structure, and IT professionals will continue to enjoy the benefits of a more focused IT career for many years to come.

About the Author

Gil Artmoore has spent the past decade working in various roles in IT departments for many businesses both small and large. Recently, Gil started writing out the things he has learned, experienced, and witnessed in the small business and tech world during his career. He is eager to share his insights with the rest of the world.

Will Artificial Intelligence Bring More IT Job Opportunities by 2030?

Will Artificial Intelligence Bring More IT Job Opportunities by 2030?This past December, the Pew Research Centre released a report that set out to get the opinions of 979 technology pioneers, innovators, developers, business and policy leaders, researchers and activists. Specifically, they asked these individuals their thoughts on Artificial Intelligence and where it would take us by 2030.  It turns out, 63% of the experts agreed that although there will be some challenges, we will be better off.

Not surprisingly, the article was widely read and commented on. This Inc article went so far as to review all comments and provide their 27 favourite quotes from the experts, including some thoughts on the future of work. While it seems there are many benefits and potential for happiness to come from AI, certainly there are also concerns for the future of many workers. This insight from Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute and professor of strategic foresight at New York University, is perhaps the most detailed and sums it up well:

“We will need new hybrid-skilled knowledge workers who can operate in jobs that have never needed to exist before. We’ll need farmers who know how to work with big data sets. Oncologists trained as robotocists. Biologists trained as electrical engineers. We won’t need to prepare our workforce just once, with a few changes to the curriculum. As A.I. matures, we will need a responsive workforce, capable of adapting to new processes, systems, and tools every few years. The need for these fields will arise faster than our labor departments, schools, and universities are acknowledging. … We need to address a difficult truth that few are willing to utter aloud: A.I. will eventually cause a large number of people to be permanently out of work.”:

McKinsey also weighed in on the topic last December in this statistic-driven article explaining the future of jobs due to automation. While some believe AI and automation will destroy jobs, McKinsey predicts there is plenty of opportunity, as long as the proper investments happen. They also remind us that, at least in the near future, not everything can be automated. Jobs would have to be done in predictable and structured environments and based on routine. Not only that, but the cost-benefit analysis has to make sense. Companies are not going to automate just because they can. Finally, McKinsey claims that while 30% of time spent in most occupations could be automated, only 5% of occupations can be completely automated.

By 2030, McKinsey predicts that India could create up to 1.2 million incremental jobs for tech professionals due to automation. They also expect higher global spending on technology products and services by consumers and businesses — $1.7 trillion to $2 trillion. That means a demand for 20 million to 46 million incremental tech workers globally-from software engineers and electrical engineers to web developers and non-technology support staff, with the largest share being in China and India.

While it all sounds great, the article cautions that these benefits can’t be realized unless we take the proper actions. “Policymakers will have to work with the private sector to stimulate investment, through strategies tailored for various sectors of the economy,” they warn. In addition, the workforce will need to be equipped with more digital literacy. Afterall, workers will need to know how to effectively operate automation and applications.

So, is it all doom and gloom or are IT contractors and technology professionals in for a bright future? According to this video we shared last October, economists are not concerned, saying that if history predicts anything, there will only be more opportunities. The comments on the YouTube page, though, would argue otherwise. It seems the only way we’ll know for sure is to wait 10 years and see what happens. What do you think?

The Marijuana Industry is an Exciting Place for Canadian IT Professionals

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Delivery Manager at Eagle

The Medical Marijuana Industry is an Exciting Place for Canadian IT ProfessionalsCannabis — growing, selling, legislating… as we lead into the October 17th legalization date, there has been hyper-focus on what effect this emerging industry will have in Canada. Whether you love it or hate it, the disruption in the market has created some fascinating gaps where enterprising Information Technology professionals can innovate, create, retro-fit, and grow into a brand-new field. Some of Canada’s most exciting IT jobs are in the Marijuana industry!

The rapid growth of the cannabis industry has created a network of competing, well-funded, start-up companies who are up against a time crunch to absorb people and processes to get product to market and the enabler for all of this is technology. The emerging and bleeding-edge skills that are in-demand and being implemented in this sector can fuel an IT professional across the next 10 years of their career! This industry has the exciting IT Career Buzzwords tech pros crave:

  • Automation: Automated or robotic systems are needed to fertilize, water, and control ambient temperature to maximize yield, decrease risk, add predictability to a harvest, and certainty around a supply chain. You’ve heard of Fin-Tech… this “Grow-Tech” has ramifications for all agri-food verticals.
  • Business Process Re-engineering: What are we doing today? Has anyone written it down? How can we make this bigger/better/faster? What technology hurtles are weighing us down? What can we innovate/change? Documenting and building frameworks of repeatable processes where none existed before is an exciting proposition.
  • Change Management: Disruption, M&A work, new systems, new employees, training – this is a perfect storm for helping people manage through technology and process change.
  • Data and Reporting: How can I track my supply chain? Are there predictive analytics that can help me with forecasting? How do I use reports to balance risk and the reporting requirements of a highly regulated healthcare environment? Data scientists and reporting specialists will be in demand to create models for this business.
  • ERP: There aren’t specialized ERP packages that deal with this segment of business yet. The opportunity comes from being able to retrofit mid-market packages to support the SCM, Manufacturing, and Pharma/Health aspects of the business, and customizing these elements for the future.
  • E-commerce: How do you build and deploy a scalable, user-friendly, and secure e-commerce website? The lessons learned in this space have broad-market appeal to any client in the Retail industry and is a highly desirable skill.
  • Remote Monitoring: Video feeds to control quality, control systems to adjust variables in production — the data storage systems required to track this, along with the infrastructure connectivity in field sites opens all sorts of interesting dynamics.
  • Security: Logical and physical security to ensure there is a safe product to sell to market.

Broadly speaking, this industry isn’t for everyone. Operating in “start-up” mode for companies that are going through heavy transition can create personal and professional uncertainty. In describing the ideal person for this kind of work, I would say the following: it’s your calling to build things — you see frameworks where nothing existed before. You will be at the forefront of building out a global manufacturing and supply chain network. You will customize, deploy, and adapt Cloud technologies to solve emerging issues in the ERP, E-commerce, and asset management space. You will build process and structure on demand where none existed before to become an industry leader in a burgeoning health field – Medical or Recreational Marijuana.

Eagle is currently working with several major Medical Marijuana clients who are looking to build-out their team with smart, information technology professionals. Willingness to relocate to Western Canada is key as we build-out these teams. If you are interested in finding out more about what a career in this field might entail, I would encourage you to create a profile on our job board and reach out to your Eagle recruiter.

Join us as we assist in creating the foundations of a lucrative new IT vertical!

The Future is Yours!!

Brendhan Malone By Brendhan Malone,
Vice-President, Central Canada at Eagle

Why independent contractors in IT should always be on top of the latest tech trends

The Future is Yours!!When I first started in recruitment immediately following Y2K, the market was very slow. Seasoned professional contractors were having tremendous difficulty landing contracts. Unless of course you were a technical or functional consultant in the ERP world and your experience was in the right module, it was tough.

What is the point of my statement?

There are trends in the industry that are worth following. After the most recent economic crash in 2008, financial institutions were looking for any way possible to reduce risk. Consultants and contractors with risk system experience were in tremendous demand in a down market.

Which quickly brings us to today. Is it luck if your area of expertise becomes in high-demand? Sometimes I’m sure good fortune plays a role. I would argue, however, that being on the cutting edge of market trends can take some of the luck out of it. Asking yourself a few key questions in regards to where you see demand for your skills and area of expertise going forward should be a weekly exercise.

The key point to mention is that the current in-demand skills are often times no more difficult to obtain or develop an expertise in than those that are diminishing in demand.

Artificial Intelligence is a perfect example of the importance of identifying current and future demand for your skills. AI is not going anywhere and companies will be relying on it more and more every day. Can your skills be augmented to provide value to this emerging area?

Automation is coming and coming fast, particularity in administrative processes. How do your skills apply here and if they don’t, how can you obtain relevant skills to automation?

People are browsing, shopping, and purchasing on their mobile devices at staggering levels. Only a few years ago it was primarily a device for browsing. Those who had the foresight so obtain mobile development skills have reaped the rewards of this demand.

This may seem like obvious considerations but the difference between having in-demand skills and not can drastically affect your standard of living.

A contractor should be on the hunt to educate and further their own skills and knowledge. Make sure you are always evolving in your professional life and you won’t be left behind but will stay at the forefront of technology changes.

Don’t Be a Luddite

Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on May 18th, 2017

John Maxwell quote about changeDuring the industrial revolution the Luddites opposed change and fought against the notion that machines would be used to get around labour laws.

The term Luddite today is used to describe anyone who opposes automation and new technologies.

We are on the cusp of another breakthrough, similar in impact to the industrial evolution or the information technology age, and along with all of the benefits, it will spawn the next generation of Luddites.

This evolution will see Artificial Intelligence in many forms, impact our lives.

  • Jobs will be lost in the same way that typing pools were replaced by word processing technology.
  • The Internet of Things will come with the smarts to effect our daily lives in ways we can only begin to understand.
  • Robots and robotics will also advance with AI smarts to preform more complex tasks than previously thought possible.

We will continue to be impacted by the effects of globalisation, including the offshoring of jobs, the access to goods produced in low cost environments and the ability of entrepreneurs to enter foreign markets easily and quickly through the internet.

We are experiencing a huge change in the way we work.  The retiring boomers leave a big gap to fill and there are not enough people in Western countries to fill those gaps.  Skilled talent is in demand (the #1 concern of CEOs worldwide) and progressive countries are finding ways to attract this talent.  There is a growth in self employment, evidenced with the gig economy and the many enabling technologies that make this possible.  People work from home, and jobs are shared more often than ever.

“It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”  W Edward Deming

So … how are we to respond in an era of such change?

Here are some thoughts:

  1.  Change is inevitable.  Fighting change is like trying to hold back the tide.  Embrace change and find a way to make it work for you.
  2. The industrial revolution ultimately resulted in more jobs, a better standard of living and better work conditions.
  3. Factors that will work in favor of job opportunity include:
    • the impact of demographics that will create job shortages,
    • the new economy jobs requiring more tech skills and
    • the opening of global markets that any company can now access.
  4. The way to protect yourself in this new world is not to fight change, but rather to invest in your skills.  Get “in demand” skills which might include any profession or trade and develop great soft skills, or better yet get involved with emerging technologies.
  5. In a world where we will see more and more shortages of talent, companies will hire for attitude first, and skills second.  Do you have a positive attitude and strong work ethic?  Find experience that will prove these assets!
  6. Companies need to be profitable in order to survive, so make sure that you are important to your employer.  Just putting in time will not make you a “keeper”.

With change comes opportunity.  I believe that this amount of change is going to create a ton of opportunity.

I also believe that it will not fall in our lap … and it will be easy to be left behind.

So … invest in yourself and learn new skills.

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”  Charles Kettering

Do NOT become the modern day Luddite, but rather focus on the opportunities.