Is automation costing IT jobs?

Most organizations are starting to rely on automation for some tasks that used to be handled by techs, according to a recent report from Tech Pro Research. 

According to the 353 respondents surveyed, low-level work is low-hanging fruit for automation. The survey found:

  • 23% of respondents automated most or all of their low-level work
  • 37% automate some low-level work, and
  • 11% planned to automate in the next year.

Only 29% weren’t engaging in automation or planning to.

Why automation matters

Automating routine or manually intensive tasks can have lots of benefits for IT. For instance, the survey found that companies could use automation to:

  • facilitate basic tasks (73%)
  • maintain a consistent environment (70%)
  • offload work to free up staff’s time (67%)
  • meet administrative requirements (37%), and
  • meet security standards (37%).

Of course, there is another benefit (or drawback, depending on how you look at it) to automation: It can lead to fewer jobs for techs.

A quarter (25%) of companies reported using automation in order to reduce head count. At a time when IT pros are earning high salaries and are in high demand, that could be a necessary workaround for some departments with limited budgets.

Not for everyone

But what about the companies that aren’t interested in automation?

In many cases, that decision came down to complexity. A third of organizations (33%) said that automation was too complex for them to handle in-house. Other reasons for going the manual route:

  • not enough staff resources (33%)
  • no support from management (23%)
  • lack of staff knowledge (18%), and
  • fear of negative results (9%).

Questions to ask

As with almost anything IT-related, there’s no single answer to what’s right for your organization. Some factors to consider in automation decisions include:

  • Reliability. Are you fairly sure the solution will work as intended every time? If not, you could wind up spending more time troubleshooting the problems than you would doing the task manually.
  • Complexity. If an automated solution to a routine task is too cumbersome, you may never make up the time you put in on the front end on the back end.
  • Job protection. In some cases, the fear of losing talented techs was too much (5% of survey respondents said they’d forgo automation to save jobs for their team). It’s a cold calculus, but if you can do work with fewer staff in the short run, you may not be able to get approval for hiring when the workload picks up later, too.

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