Whenever network operators are asked about automation's potential to kill jobs, the response is typically something along that lines of, "rather than eliminate positions, automation will allow employees to shift focus to more important tasks."
The truth, however, is that automation will absolutely allow companies to let employees go. And the efficiencies that will be gained and money saved from the lay-offs is a big reason why operators are excited about automation in the first place.
The primary reason for automating network operations is headcount reductions, according to 31% of respondents to a recent Light Reading poll. Second place, at 29.39%, was "cutting spending on manual processes." "Releasing staff for other opportunities" only garnered 13% of the vote. (See Automation Is About Job Cuts – LR Poll.)
There are many reasons to automate network operations. Improving customer service and driving revenue growth were also listed in the poll, and increasing agility to more nimbly offer new services or "fail fast," like the web-scale companies do, also come to mind. But it's worth noting that the jobs threat is a very real one.
Rather than see it as a death sentence, however, savvy employees need to use it as an opportunity to make sure their skills are aligned with the future of the company, to learn new facets of the business and take part in any "reskilling" courses offered by their company or in the industry at large.
The move to virtualization, 5G and digital transformation is changing the nature of the jobs to support the networks. Old skills are no longer relevant. Even jobs that won't be replaced via automation are changing in their nature. With automation, a top priority for network operators everywhere -- staying ahead of the curve -- should be the number one mission for anyone looking to keep their job.
Light Reading hosted its inaugural Automation Everywhere event in Dallas this week. Check back to the site for more updates from the show on how operators are approaching network automation. (See Heavy Reading Analyst: Autonomous Network Operations Demand Agility & Adaptability.)
— Sarah Thomas, Contributing Editor, Telco Transformation