In an industry that's very foundation is built on constant change driving innovation, it doesn't come as a surprise that tech roles become obsolete at a rapid pace. Most roles end up naturally evolving into different positions as time passes, or they combine with other similar roles as technology advances and the individual picks up new skills. As the position adapts, the demand for the original role wanes. According to research by the World Economic Forum, the two biggest trends impacting IT business models today are 'mobile internet, cloud technology' (69%) and 'processing power, Big Data' (44%). Adoption of these trends is leading to wide-scale obsolescence of a number of tech roles. Listed below are 5 IT roles on the decline and predicted to become extinct over the coming years:
1. Computer Hardware Engineers
Falling hardware prices and the growth of cloud services platforms has led to less demand for computer hardware support technicians, server admins and other professionals working on the hardware side of router and storage disk management. Data collected by the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) for Praxis Strategy Group determined that computer hardware engineering jobs have declined 15% since 2001 as a result. Recruitment for this role has also seen a similarly steady decline over the last decade.
2. Administrator Roles
Traditional systems administrators, such as Windows/Linux/Unix systems administrators, are being replaced by developers in their droves. Speaking to Dice, Doug Washington, Director of Recruiting Strategy for TriCom Technical Services, tackles the decline, stating that 'systems administrators are being replaced by DevOps engineers and DevOps tool administrators. Some 80% of the job duties in these new roles involve systems admin and engineering, and the other 20% involve development duties.' There's a similar decline being seen in email/exchange administration. Washington suggests that, to stay relevant, administrators must learn how to write and deploy code, developing an understanding of the server side of the business.
3. Software Application Support Specialists
This is a role that was developed to serve as a liaison between users and the public, but has seen a significant reduction in demand over the last few years. This is due to the use of cloud computing - which, according to a Rightscale survey, 85% of enterprises now use - the growth of Software as a Service (SaaS) and the increased need for UX pros and developers. Companies are instead hiring individuals who can manage software services in the cloud.
4. Digital Marketing Specialists
IT positions that focused around moving the company's marketing strategy to the digital world are roles that are now shrinking into one. Speaking with CIO.com, James Stanger, Senior Director of Product Development for CompTIA, states that 'at one time, webmaster, SEO specialist, and social media strategist were three separate jobs in a company's IT department. Now they’re all part of a marketing professional’s day-to-day responsibilities.'
5. Production Programmers
According to a BLS study, roles in production-oriented planning have grown just 7% over the last five years. They are now expected to decline by 8% between 2018 and 2024. Programming is still a highly sought-after skill, but the role dedicated to it is changing rapidly. Employers instead want developers with a slew of skills in problem-solving, design, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence - to name a few. Individuals need to be able to collaborate and communicate with users, and become team leaders or handle other aspects of tech.
Those currently working in a position that's predicted to become extinct needn't worry though. The great thing about the tech industry is that these IT roles will adapt and change, gradually evolving into a new position altogether while those in the positions evolve with it. Individuals in the industry just need to keep learning and staying up to date with trends to stay relevant and employable.