ORLANDO – Gartner sees things like robots and drones replacing a third of all workers by 2025, and whether you want to believe it or not, is entirely your business.
This is Gartner being provocative, as it typically is, at the start of its major U.S. conference, the Symposium/ITxpo.
Take drones, for instance.
“One day, a drone may be your eyes and ears,” said Peter Sondergaard, Gartner’s research director. In five years, drones will be a standard part of operations in many industries, used in agriculture, geographical surveys and oil and gas pipeline inspections.
“Drones are just one of many kinds of emerging technologies that extend well beyond the traditional information technology world — these are smart machines,” said Sondergaard.
Smart machines are an emerging “super class” of technologies that perform a wide variety of work, both the physical and the intellectual kind, said Sondergaard. Machines, for instance, have been grading multiple choice for years, but now they are grading essays and unstructured text.
This cognitive capability in software will extend to other areas, including financial analysis, medical diagnostics and data analytic jobs of all sorts, says Gartner.
“Knowledge work will be automated,” said Sondergaard, as will physical jobs with the arrival of smart robots.
“Gartner predicts one in three jobs will be converted to software, robots and smart machines by 2025,” said Sondergaard. “New digital businesses require less labor; machines will be make sense of data faster than humans can.”
Among those listening in this audience was Lawrence Strohmaier, the CIO of Nuverra Environmental Solutions, who said Gartner’s prediction is similar to what happened in other eras of technological advance.
“The shift is from doing to implementing, so the doers go away but someone still has to implement,” said Strohmaier. IT is a shift, although a slow one, to new types of jobs, no different than what happened in the machine age, he said.
The forecast of the impact of technology on jobs was also a warning to the CIOs and IT managers at this conference to consider how they will adapt.
“The door is open for the CIO and the IT organization to be a major player in digital leadership,” said David Aron, a Gartner analyst.
CIOs have been steadily gaining authority, and 41% of CIOs now report to the CEO, a record level, said Aron. That’s based on data from 2,810 CIOs globally.
To be effective leaders, Gartner argues that CIOs have shifted from being focused on measuring things like cost to being able to lead with vision and describe what their business or government agency must do to take advantage of smarter technologies.