Computerworld has an article about what (IT) jobs will be like in 2020. Ignoring the parent difficulty of forecasting a decade in the future, allow me to poke a few holes in their account.
There are two broad themes: first, that technology is changing the business landscape, driving more towards cloud-based and mobile solutions.
Second, that people in all categories lack the skills to react appropriately. I’m not going to dwell too long on the stereotyping – it’s pretty basic, such as claiming that there’s “gap between college and real-world experience” (surprise), that Gen-Xers have too much entitlement, that mid-career workers lack experience with technology, etc.
There are two issues with this pretty picture. First, it’s so damn broad that it could apply to anyone at any time; second, it over-emphasizes the impact of technology on business.
I know, I know: it’s a terrible surprise from a rag called “Computerworld.”
Business is about two things: money and relationships. While such a simplification is broadly inaccurate, it’s sufficient when talking about technology. The goals for technology are to lower cost, speed up existing processes, move into new areas, and make it easier to connect.
For all that people claim that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Salesforce, whateverothercompany is changing the way business works – well, they’re full of shit. Facebook makes maintaining existing social relations easier (no more writing letters/emails to update people), LinkedIn does the same for business networking, Twitter (and its cousin, blogs) make publishing your thoughts easier, and Salesforce (along with other automation technology) makes existing tasks easier.
You could say that the purpose of technology is to eliminate drudgery.
Now, it’s very true that people who make a living off of performing drudgery are challenged by this tendency. And it’s true that people who put up with drudgery to accomplish their real goal (like a salesperson who fills out paperwork so that they can sell) don’t like having processes changed on them.
But it isn’t true that the “skills” are changing so much. People who sell still need to sell; people who manage need to manage, etc. The communication channels change somewhat, but neither the goal nor the method undergo distinct changes.
Tools are just tools: they exist to make you more effective. If new technology makes you less productive – well, it’s not a very good tool then, is it? So why the hell are you adopting it?
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