Is Information Technology Making Management Skills Obsolete?

IT and Jobs

Information TechnologyInformation Technology (IT) has become an increasingly imperative aspect of the business world. It is utilized by companies of all types, enabling them to remain competitive and up-to-date with the latest computer technology, but it has also caused some concerns about the impact on the job market.

Although it is not debatable that some jobs have been eliminated as a side effect of the emergence of technology, it is important to note that many new jobs have been created within the IT field. Interestingly, these jobs range from entry-level positions that pay less than $30,000 per year to high-level management titles that are accompanied by six-figure paychecks. Additionally, even the worst case scenario projections for the future of the job market during the technological age focus more on the impact that IT will have on lower-level positions. These projections often do not include the very basic fact that there will always be a need for management level employees, and people are not likely to ever be satisfied with the idea of not being able to connect with an actual human being if they have a problem.

What Role Will Technology Play in the Future?

Some predict that jobs on assembly lines will essentially be phased out in the future due to technology, but other sources have indicated that jobs will continuously evolve to suit the needs of each new marketplace as opposed to becoming completely eliminated. Either way, we are currently seeing the growing pains associated with an old way of doing things being replaced by newer, more efficient methods.

For example, newer developments such as digital marketing channels and highly intuitive software are giving companies a higher level of productivity than ever before, so it is understandable for people to praise technology while also being slightly afraid of how it could impact their job prospects in the future. We should all be prepared for a future that will incorporate IT into our business and personal lives in more profound ways, but this does not mean that millions of people will automatically be out of a job.

The reality is that higher levels of technology require a greater amount of oversight by IT professionals and managers, so anyone concerned about their future would be wise to seek out education and hands-on experience in one of these two fields. It is noteworthy that Bill Gates has estimated that many lower-level jobs will no longer be necessary within 20 years, but this again helps emphasize the importance of obtaining management experience.

The Importance of Management Professionals

No matter how infatuated people become with the latest technological advances, they still crave the ability to be able to connect one-on-one with another human being when they have questions or problems. A lot of these basic issues are addressed by lower-level employees, and these individuals typically receive training and support from people at a management level.

There have been multiple studies that have demonstrated that employee morale and productivity in all departments are linked to the quality and effectiveness of their manager, so it is not possible to overstate the importance of having trained individuals in these roles regardless of how automated your company becomes. After all, if you do not have a solid leader in place who communicates effectively enough to motivate and inspire everyone in your IT department, their critical functions will almost certainly suffer. It is also important to note that keeping morale high via solid management skills and offering quality benefits tends to reduce the average turnover rate. One report cites four companies in particular whose annual turnover reduced to 6%, compared with the national average of 38%.

These are great examples of the many reasons that computers will never be able to completely replace human beings. You hear about AI (Artificial Intelligence), and machines that “think” and make decisions. But I’ll hazard a guess that we’re still a long, long way off on that one.

Computers, software, robots, etc. are all conceived, designed and built by the minds of men and women. A robot on an assembly line must be installed, calibrated, monitored, maintained and repaired. A nifty app that “does the work for us” is still only as good as the accuracy of the data entry and brilliance with which it is used. An algorithm, however cleverly conceived, will never be able to make a judgment call, talk sense into someone, hammer a nail, strum a guitar or paint a masterpiece.

Are Management Skills as Necessary Today as They Once Were?

Some people erroneously believe that the rise of technology requires data entry and operational personnel but could still render management skill obsolete. This is due to the misconception that technology is able to replace things like judgment, analytical thought, and even personal motivation and vision.

In reality, strong management skills are more important now than ever before. It would be all too easy to become complacent and overly reliant on technology to the detriment and ultimate failure of a company. Today’s business leaders must be able to utilize technology to their advantage without losing essential administrative skills, such as getting a department focused and on target, analyzing data and metrics, remedy of morale problems, inspection and correction of quality of services and products, and the ability to deal with countless matters relating to establishment, organization, finance, personnel and production.

The Essential Human Touch

Many people love the convenience of being able to use an automated menu or a website to place an order or pay for one of their utilities. Unfortunately, this can quickly become an extremely frustrating experience if things do not go according to plan. This is yet another reason that strong managers and employees remain essential. Imagine the heightened level of frustration that customers would feel if they did not have the option of connecting to a live representative or manager when the automated menu failed to properly assist them. Last I checked, that happens to people all the time.

People really need to be able to talk to a real person who is patient, knowledgeable and possesses the necessary management skills to help them reach a resolution quickly. Studies indicate that customer complaints across all industries have become increasingly common, and 50% of consumers will file at least one complaint this year. Having someone with management skills in place can help take care of these issues before they turn into lost customers and negative online reviews.

More Technology = More Skill

Companies that do a lot of phone traffic must have people with excellent communication skills. Retail outlets, whether online or brick-and-mortar, need skilled salespeople. Industry needs well-trained and conscientious workers, HR people and departmental managers. A CEO who really knows what he or she is doing is rare indeed. Software and technology can improve our quality of life, make people’s jobs easier, and enable us to reach wider numbers of people and expand our territory.

The basic rules of commerce and production haven’t changed. The playing field has just gotten more intricate, more sophisticated and more challenging. All of this only amplifies the need for skilled people at all levels.

 

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