#eWEEKchat March 14: The Rise of Automation in All Technology

Please join us March 14 for a timely #eWEEKchat about automation and how it is -- and will be -- directly impacting our lives.

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On Wednesday, March 14, at 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. GMT, @eWEEKNews will host its 65th monthly #eWEEKChat. The topic will be "The Rise of Automation in All Technology." It will be moderated by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK's editor of features and analysis.

Some quick facts:

Topic:  "The Rise of Automation in All Technology"

Date/time: March 14, 11 a.m. PDT/2 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. GMT

Tweetchat handle: Use #eWEEKChat to follow/participate, but it's easier and more efficient to use a real-time chat link.

Real-time link to the conversation: Use http://www.tchat.io/rooms/eweekchat. Sign in via Twitter and use #eweekchat for the identifier.

The Rise of Automation in All Technology'

It's all about the Big Red Easy Button that Staples likes to use in its television commercials. Push a button, everything just happens. It's all that easy--and all that hard.

But it takes an awful lot of sweat equity under the hood to make things "just work." Any software engineer or application architect will tell you that.

We as IT users are now reaping the benefits of all that history of software development by all those coders and creators around the world. As the internet gets increasingly busier and more loaded with data, automation becomes a more and more important factor in making commerce, video games, social networks and everything else run more efficiently.

For network engineers who’ve seen the recent IBM Watson commercial where the mystical cube detects and remediates thousands of security threats automatically, it would be easy to think that the robot overlords are set to take their jobs. Well, that’s only partly true. Networking and IT staff typically include lists of manual tasks and CLI (command-line interface) inputs that draw time and effort away from bigger problems, so naturally the more a machine can handle that, the better. But humans won’t flee for new jobs as quickly as some automation advocates believe. The future of automation requires that IT professionals adapt and acquire new skills in order to thrive.

Here are some data points from recent eWEEK articles that we will discuss on March 14:

Specialists always will be needed: Companies that adopt an automation agenda will find that they can move from device-led to architecture-led, and eventually to operations-led, systems. But there simply must be specialists such as network engineers who still understand the protocols and can troubleshoot as needs arise. Basically, someone still must know how the switches and routers function.

Automation will create its own category of new jobs: According to McKinsey Research, AI and automation could actually help create 20 to 50 million new jobs globally for both in-house IT workers and externally as outsourced tech consulting jobs.Organizations will need to hire a new crop of professionals to manage automation for it to reach its full potential. There soon will be a new category of IT worker that is grounded in the infrastructure but particularly skilled in the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Larger enterprises may even choose to add a Chief AI Officer or other senior-level executive to oversee and guide AI and associated automation strategies for existing products.

Staff won’t be replaced; they’ll be retrained: New research from the 2018 World Economic Forum found 95 percent of workers with jobs impacted by automation will be able to find good-quality, higher-wage work with adequate reskilling. As computing infrastructures move to become more automated and agile in the cloud era, companies will still need IT personnel to manage it. In fact, companies will invest even more in their existing employees, educating and retraining their staff so they are proficient across heterogeneous environments that make greater use of integrated tools and automated workflows. For example, this can include helping staff learn coding languages for DevOps functions that might require the need to build a new automation scripts.

Automation is about better collaboration: Automation is most useful at the boundary of two things: two people, two systems, two organizations. For example, connecting a server requires coordination between server and networking teams. The actual keystrokes to provision the network are not particularly complex; it’s more the time involved in turning up servers to coordinate efforts and conduct reviews of proposed changes. Automating this process removes some of the coordination and frees up staff for more strategic work, and that is where the benefit is the greatest.

The cloud is where the automation magic will happen, but it will need assistance: Companies will require human intervention to ensure systems operate like a well-oiled machine in the cloud. According to recent research by PwC, to increase business agility enterprises not in the cloud will have to move some or more of their workloads to either public or private clouds in the next three years. Having automated processes to simplify how workloads are uploaded and distributed in the cloud will require personnel with intimate knowledge of business objectives and priorities to ensure long-term success. Automated processes will help keep their eye on the prize and workloads producing results.

The Era of Simplicity Will Bring More Innovation, and Ultimately More Jobs: AI and automation promises to greatly reduce the complexities of computing systems, especially as more organizations transition to the cloud. This, however, means that humans still need to innovate, understand these systems and ultimately make the final call on how new tools and applications need to operate in these environments. While it means that IT professionals will need to learn some new tricks, their knowledge and services will continue to be valuable for years to come.

Let’s being these topics into the conversation on Wednesday. Join us March 14 at 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. GMT for an hour. Chances are good that you'll learn something valuable.

For your reference, here is a list of scheduled #eWEEKchat topics for 2018. They are subject to change, but not less than 30 days beforehand:

#eWEEKchat 2018 Schedule

Jan. 10:  The IoT Greenfield: Where Will It Take Us in 2018?
Feb. 14:  Application Economy or API Economy: Which Will Prevail?
March 14: The Rise of Automation in All Technology
April 11:  PI Everywhere: Can We Continue to Allow Numerous Organizations to Own Our Personal Information?
May 9:  TBA
June 13: New Roles for VR and AR in Enterprise IT
July 11:  New Trends of All Kinds in Security
Aug. 8: What's New in Low- and No-Code Application Development
Sept. 12: Voice-Enabled Everything
Oct. 10: Trends in New-Gen Mobile Apps, Devices
Nov. 14:  Straightening Out Enterprise Collaboration Strategies
Dec. 12: Predictions and Wild Guesses for IT in 2019

If you have a suggestion for an #eWEEKchat topic, email cpreimesberger@eweek.com.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...