Despite the current hype about automation, it’s nothing new. People have been introducing techniques to speed up or improve manufacturing, transport, agriculture, and other processes for centuries. The only difference now is the speed of change.
The sophistication of automation is accelerating faster than ever before thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) systems. This is reshaping the employment market. In a recent Robert Walters survey, two thirds of hiring managers told us that automation was changing their recruitment plans for 2018.
The level of demand for IT professionals with skills in artificial intelligence and robotics process automation is high – and it’s only getting higher. (The same goes for their salaries.)
While we’ve all heard the predictions of widespread job displacement in the coming years, I think that technology professionals have an extraordinary opportunity right now. According to Accenture PLC’s global study of more than 1,000 large organisations already using or testing AI and machine-learning systems, a huge number of entirely new jobs are being created. We are seeing that in New South Wales.
There is a shortage of people in the marketplace with relevant experience because the technology is new. So now is the perfect time to steer your career towards this exciting, emerging technology. Here are some tips to help you do so:
1. Put your hand up
Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence overlap with many other technologies, including cyber security, big data, and digital development. Because of the shortage of existing talent in automation technology, many employers are willing to upskill their existing IT teams. Go in search of opportunities like this in your organisation and, when you find them, put your hand up.
2. Be strategic about your next move
When you are weighing up a new job opportunity, ask your prospective employer about the organisation’s vision and where automation fits in. Do they have a clear direction? Ask them if it’s possible to work there and carve out a career in automation technology. Do they offer ongoing training for new and emerging platforms?
3. Emphasise your commercial nous
When applying for jobs in automation technology, show recruiters examples of your commercial acumen. Many roles require an ability to map processes to understand how a business can do something better. Doing it “better” usually means more efficiently or productively, which improves the bottom line. You need to show an ability to understand the commercial drivers of a business.
4. Learn from the best
Many large corporates are bringing consultancies in to establish, develop and/or improve their automation technology and processes. More often than not, this includes working alongside the client’s in-house IT personnel and training them to the point where the client can continue working independently. If your organisation is working with a consultancy like this, seek every opportunity to be involved.
5. Mould your education
If you’re studying at university, select course modules that cover aspects of automation and robotics. And don’t overlook the transferability of other courses too. For example, graduates with mathematics and statistics knowledge can apply that working with artificial intelligence, as the technology can rely upon complex algorithms to direct the software.
6. Meet and greet
Recruiters are looking for self-starters and people who can demonstrate a passion for automation technology. One way that IT professionals can show this is to attend conferences, events and Meetups where automation specialists congregate. As well as keeping you up-to-date with the latest trends and projects, this can also help you build a network of people who work in this space.
7. Give yourself a head start
If you want to transition your career towards automation technology, but you’re not in a job where your employer will pay for training, then invest in yourself. Recruiters are looking for IT professionals who have seized the initiative and put themselves through courses and qualifications independently. Look for platforms such as Blue Prism that offer accreditation.
8. Polish your customer service skills
In this day and age, customers can be fickle. Many organisations are using process automation as the first point of contact for their customers. Chatbots are a prime example of this. As an IT professional, you need to understand the customer journey. When applying for jobs in automation technology, show examples where you have introduced processes to improve the way customers interact with a business.
About Peter Bateson
Peter Bateson is Director of the Robert Walters Chatswood office in New South Wales.
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