Technology is now evolving at such a rapid pace that annual predictions of trends can seem out-of-date before they even go live as a published blog post or article. As technology evolves, it enables even faster change and progress, causing an acceleration of the rate of change, until eventually, it will become exponential.
Technology-based careers don’t change at the same speed, but they do evolve, and the savvy IT professional recognizes that his or her role will not stay the same. And an IT worker of the 21st century will constantly be learning (out of necessity if not desire).
What does this mean for you? It means staying current with technology trends. And it means keeping your eyes on the future, to know which skills you’ll need to know and what types of jobs you want to be qualified to do. Here are eight technology trends you should watch for in 2020, and some of the jobs that will be created by these trends.
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has already received a lot of buzz in recent years, but it continues to be a trend to watch because its effects on how we live, work and play are only in the early stages. In addition, other branches of AI have developed, including Machine Learning, which we will go into below. AI refers to computer systems built to mimic human intelligence and perform tasks such as recognition of images, speech or patterns, and decision making. AI can do these tasks faster and more accurately than humans.
Five out of six Americans use AI services in one form or another every day, including navigation apps, streaming services, smartphone personal assistants, ride-sharing apps, home personal assistants, and smart home devices. In addition to consumer use, AI is used to schedule trains, assess business risk, predict maintenance, and improve energy efficiency, among many other money-saving tasks.
2. Machine Learning
Machine Learning is a subset of AI. With Machine Learning, computers are programmed to learn to do something they are not programmed to do: they learn by discovering patterns and insights from data. In general, we have two types of learning, supervised and unsupervised.
While Machine Learning is a subset of AI, we also have subsets within the domain of Machine Learning, including neural networks, natural language processing (NLP), and deep learning. Each of these subsets offers an opportunity for specializing in a career field that will only grow.
Machine Learning is rapidly being deployed in all kinds of industries, creating a huge demand for skilled professionals. The Machine Learning market is expected to grow to $8.81 billion by 2022. Machine Learning applications are used for data analytics, data mining and pattern recognition. On the consumer end, Machine Learning powers web search results, real-time ads, and network intrusion detection, to name only a few of the many tasks it can do.
3. Robotic Process Automation or RPA
Like AI and Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, or RPA, is another technology that is automating jobs. RPA is the use of software to automate business processes such as interpreting applications, processing transactions, dealing with data, and even replying to emails. RPA automates repetitive tasks that people used to do. These are not just the menial tasks of a low-paid worker: up to 45 percent of the activities we do can be automated, including the work of financial managers, doctors, and CEOs.
4. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Virtual Reality (VR) immerses the user in an environment while Augment Reality (AR) enhances their environment. Although VR has primarily been used for gaming thus far, it has also been used for training, as with VirtualShip, a simulation software used to train U.S. Navy, Army and Coast Guard ship captains. The popular Pokemon Go is an example of AR.
Both VR and AR have enormous potential in training, entertainment, education, marketing, and even rehabilitation after an injury. Either could be used to train doctors to do surgery, offer museum-goers a deeper experience, enhance theme parks, or even enhance marketing, as with this Pepsi Max bus shelter.
Cybersecurity might not seem like emerging technology, given that it has been around for a while, but it is evolving just as other technologies are. That’s in part because threats are constantly new. The malevolent hackers who are trying to illegally access data are not going to give up any time soon, and they will continue to find ways to get through even the toughest security measures. It’s also in part because new technology is being adapted to enhance security. As long as we have hackers, we will have cyber security as an emerging technology because it will constantly evolve to defend against those hackers.
As proof of the strong need for cybersecurity professionals, the number of cybersecurity jobs is growing three times faster than other tech jobs. However, we’re falling short when it comes to filling those jobs. As a result, it’s predicted that we will have 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021.
Many cyber security jobs pay six-figure incomes, and roles can range from the ethical hacker to security engineer to Chief Security Officer, offering a promising career path for someone who wants to get into and stick with this domain.