Third of knowledge workers expect their jobs to be computerized in five years

Knowledge workers realise their jobs will either change dramatically or disappear as the result of new technology, according to research

Over a third (35%) of knowledge workers don’t think their roles will exist in five years as a result of technology advancement.

While artificial intelligence and automation software is seen as the biggest threat to roles carried out by people, collaboration technology will also have an impact.

This is according to research from Atos’s communications and collaboration unit Unify, which surveyed 9,000 knowledge workers – people who “have to think for a living” – in the US, UK and Germany.

The Way we work study also revealed that 65% of knowledge workers expect their roles to change in five years. It found that technology is changing working habits and styles, with 52% of knowledge workers more regularly working in virtual teams across different locations.

Of these workers, 42% think virtual teams can be more effective than face-to-face teams, while 49% said their company operates through technology and communication rather than through offices and locations.

Using technology enables workers to collaborate with more people, and 36% of those surveyed said creative thinking is one of the biggest benefits of this.

“Today, knowledge workers have an unrivalled freedom in how they connect and engage with each other. This has been provided to them, by and large, through technology,” said Unify CEO Jon Pritchard.

“The Way we work study shows the significant impact that technology, the trend of digital transformation and the on-demand economy is currently having on the workplace. It’s our belief that knowledge workers will increasingly want to define how, when and where they work.”

In 2013 research, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A Osborne estimated the probability of computerisation for 702 detailed occupations. The study – The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? – listed the jobs and, using a methodology, estimated the probability of their computerization.

See from the list below whether your job is at risk of being taken over by a computer (0% = non-computerisable, 100% = computerisable).

  • Telemarketers – 99%
  • Accountants and auditors – 94%
  • Retail salespeople – 92%
  • Word processors and typists – 8%
  • Machinists – 65%
  • Commercial pilots – 55%
  • Actors – 37%
  • Firefighters – 17%
  • Chemical engineers – 2%
  • Recreational therapists – 0.3%


EU, United States agree on changes to strengthen data transfer pact

The European Union and the United States have agreed changes to a data transfer pact that is key to transatlantic business, including stricter rules for companies holding information on Europeans and clearer limits on U.S. surveillance.

The revised EU-U.S. Privacy Shield was sent for review by European member states overnight. They are expected to hold a vote in early July, several EU sources said, at which point it will enter into force.

Cross-border data transfers by businesses include payroll and human resources information as well as lucrative data used for targeted online advertising, which is of particular importance to tech companies.

However, revelations of mass U.S. surveillance practices three years ago caused political outrage in Europe and fuelled distrust of big U.S. tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple.

Brussels and Washington rushed to hammer out the data pact after the EU’s highest court last year struck down the previous system, Safe Harbour, on concerns about mass U.S. surveillance practices, threatening data flows that are key to billions of dollars of business.

For 15 years Safe Harbour allowed both U.S. and European firms to get around tough EU data transferral rules by stating they complied with European privacy standards when storing information on U.S. servers.

EU privacy regulators expressed concern about an initial deal struck in February.

The U.S. government has now explained further the specific conditions under which intelligence services might have to collect data in bulk and safeguards on how the data is used, EU sources said.

A letter from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, seen by Reuters, gives an example of the United States seeking information on the activities of a terrorist group in the Middle East believed to be plotting attacks against Europe.

If Washington does not have information such as names, phone numbers or email addresses it would collect communications “to and from that region for further review and analysis to identify those communications that relate to the group,” the letter says.

“Thus, even when targeting through the use of specific selectors is not possible, the United States does not collect all communications from all communications facilities in the world.”

The United States also explained how a new privacy official – whose role would be to field complaints from EU citizens about U.S. spying – would be independent from the intelligence services.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti; editing by Philip Blenkinsop/Keith Weir)

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This isn’t crying wolf: Machines will take white-collar jobs during the next administration

In this series, professionals provide advice for the next U.S. president. What do you want POTUS focused on? Write your own #nextpresident post here.

Dear Madam / Mr. President:

Over fifty years ago, in March 1964, a document known as the “Triple Revolution Report” landed on the desk of your predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. That report, written by a prominent group of intellectuals that included two Nobel laureates, argued that the United States was on the brink of dramatic social and economic disruption as rapidly advancing industrial automation technology was poised to throw millions out of work.

Needless to say, that dire prediction did not come to pass. However, there are good reasons to believe that technology has finally advanced to the point where such concerns need to be taken seriously. The fear that machines might displace workers and create unemployment has a long history, and because the alarm has been prematurely sounded so many times in the past, there is a real danger that a “little boy who cried wolf” effect will leave us complacent and unprepared if and when the disruption finally arrives.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics suggest that it is entirely possible that a significant impact on the job market could begin to unfold during the course of your presidency. The most important thing to understand about all this progress is that computers no longer have to be programmed step-by-step. Machine learning—a technology that involves smart algorithms churning through vast amounts of data—in effect allows computers figure out for themselves how to perform tasks or reach specific goals.

The recent triumph of Google’s DeepMind technology at learning to play the ancient game of “Go” and then triumphing against one of the world’s best players was an especially vivid demonstration of the technology, but, in fact, machine learning is already in widespread use across both industries and occupations. Smart algorithms have already displaced lawyers and paralegals who once reviewed documents as part of the legal discovery process. An increasing number of news articles published my major U.S. media companies are being generated autonomously by systems that analyze data and create content that is often indistinguishable from a story written by a human journalist. Machine learning is also powering the latest generation of robots, and the machines are rapidly becoming more flexible and dexterous.

As technology continues to accelerate, the number and types of jobs that can be automated is certain to expand dramatically. It’s not just factory workers that can be replaced by robots and machines: Rapidly improving software automation and specialized artificial intelligence applications will make knowledge worker and professional occupations requiring college educations and advanced skills increasingly vulnerable. This demonstrated capability for information technology to climb the skills ladder and threaten the jobs taken by college graduates is a special cause for concern because it calls into question the only conventional solution we have to offer workers displaced by automation: ever more training and education.

If technology eventually results in wide-spread unemployment, or if it drives down wages for the majority of workers as jobs are deskilled and commoditized, then we could also run into a serious problem with consumer demand. Jobs are the primary mechanism that gets purchasing power into the hands of consumers so that they buy the products and services generated by the economy. If automation has a negative impact on consumer demand and confidence, then we run the risk of economic stagnation or even a downward, deflationary spiral.

While these concerns may seem either far-fetched science fiction or a return to the Ludditism we’ve experienced in the past, many of us in the technology community believe the risk is real–and that it deserves serious consideration. At a time when our political system is intensely polarized and seems unable to respond to even the most mundane challenges, the prospect of a dramatic and unanticipated economic and social disruption is not sometime we can afford to take lightly.

If the automation of jobs proves to be a relentless trend, then there will eventually be no alternative but to consider unconventional solutions–perhaps including a guaranteed basic income for all Americans. Needless to say, the implementation of such policies would present a staggering political challenge. Given that there is no reliable way to predict when the disruption will occur, or how fast it will unfold, it is imperative that planning begin well in advance. A logical first step would be to initiate some experimental pilot programs designed to test various policy responses. The data generated by these programs would be invaluable in eventually crafting an effective national policy to adapt our economy and society to the implications of disruptive technology.

I urge you to consider including among those who staff your new administration experts who are familiar with recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics and with the potential economic and social impact of these technologies, and who are prepared to initiate the planning process.

Martin Ford is the Author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, winner of the 2015 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.


What’s it like being an IT director?


Information technology (IT) directors are in demand across many industries. These tech-minded individuals are responsible for managing computer resources so that a company’s IT systems are well-maintained and carefully protected. IT directors are at the top of the IT department, overseeing managers and staff members. They both coordinate and implement the systems and services that keep essential information and technology solutions available to the rest of the organization.

IT directors serve as a primary point of contact between the professionals in the IT department and those in operations, business, customer service, sales, and other areas. The specific responsibilities assigned to the IT director will vary by industry, and a solid knowledge of the particular sector a company is in important for IT directors to fill their roles.

What Can You Expect from an IT Director Job?


IT directors are responsible for resolving the issues that naturally arise from any type of business technology. Some of the common responsibilities that you may find in an IT director job description include:

  • Organizing programs to increase efficiency
  • Overseeing technical projects that are designed to improve upon or achieve business goals
  • Directing networks to improve efficiency
  • Collaborating with information engineers to solve management problems
  • Supervising managers and employees in the IT department
  • Creating financial budgets for senior executives
  • Researching new products and keeping up with the latest technology innovations
  • Recommending new systems and software to senior executives
  • Organizing and implementing disaster recovery systems
  • Collaborating with information engineers to solve business challenges
  • Identifying market opportunities in IT

Work Environment

Are you asking what does an IT director do? IT directors can work in a range of industries and job sectors. In today’s economy, nearly every company relies on some type of technology as part of their operations. Finance, insurance, information, management, and manufacturing are some of the most common industries for IT directors, but you can find top IT jobs in many other areas as well.


IT directors typically work a regular full-time schedule. While their most common hours may adhere loosely to a traditional nine to five schedule, it’s not uncommon for these professionals to put in a lot of overtime. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that about 40 percent of computer and information systems managers worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014. This was also true of about half of top executives.

Schedules will often vary from week to week or seasonally for IT directors. They’re more likely to put in overtime when business is going through a busy period which will put added strain on the company. For retail companies, this might be around the holiday, while businesses focused on tourism will see an added strain on their IT systems during summer vacation or spring break.

What Qualifications Are Required to Be an IT Director?


IT directors need to have a strong background in a technical field. They’re normally required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a related area. Some applicable degrees may include:

  • Information Technology
  • Technology Management
  • Business Management

There are many courses that you should include in your education to gain the knowledge necessary to become an IT director. You’ll need a strong foundation in information technology to serve as the core of your education. Important IT courses will typically include:

  • Computer interface
  • Database management technology
  • Business applications
  • Information systems
  • Operating systems
  • Web design
  • Systems analysis
  • Project management
  • Computer architecture
  • Technical wiring
  • Software development
  • Global information management

In addition to an extensive knowledge of information technology, you may also need an MBA and solid business background to secure a position as an IT director. With an MBA, you’ll gain additional insights into organizational management, leadership, and business practices.

Depending on the job you’re applying for, you may need more education specific to a particular operating system or program, such as Office365, Amazon Web Services, or cloud computing.


IT directors typically have an extensive background in both information technology and leadership positions. The most common career path is for one to begin as a lower level IT employee. With a few years of experience, you may progress to a management position. Many companies will hire lower level IT managers with only a few years of experience. To secure a promotion to IT director, you typically need five to ten years of management experience in an IT field.


While a solid knowledge base is one of the most important things to establish when you want a career as an IT director, there are also several valuable skill sets you may need to possess. Just what is an IT director? This professional is someone with a well-rounded skill set in several key areas. Cultivate these skills as early as possible in your professional journey and you’ll be well-placed and ideally equipped for a position as an IT director down the road.

  • Analytical Skills – IT directors must understand how to assess a situation quickly and efficiently. Down times can spell disaster for any business, so directors in this area must have a quick plan for recovery.
  • Business Skills – As a director, it’s important that you understand how all aspects of the business are managed. This will help you best position your department to collaborate effectively with others in the company.
  • Leadership Skills – IT directors are at the head of their department, and are responsible for both managers and other employees beneath them. They need to know how to motivate and direct efficiently.
  • Organizational Skills – IT directors have a lot on their plate at any given time. It’s important for them to understand how to prioritize and organize everything that they’re dealing with.
  • Communication Skills – Strong communication skills are important in any IT field. Not everyone that you work with will be proficient in information technology, so you need to know how to communicate both in technical terms with your peers, and using more common terminology for those in other departments.
  • Technical Aptitude – Technical systems are changing all the time. While it’s useful to have an in-depth knowledge of a particular program right now, this may become obsolete in a year’s time. It’s more important that you have a natural aptitude for adapting to and understanding new technology.

Salary Expectations

How much do IT directors make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for computer and information system managers was $131,600 in May 2015. Those who worked in information industries had the highest salary, at $148,070. Those in computer systems design and related services had a salary of $139,600 while IT managers in finance and insurance earned $136,240. Overall, computer and information system managers made less than $80,160 in the bottom ten percent and more than $187,200 in the top ten percent.

Job Outlook for an IT Director

Projected Growth

The job outlooks is favorable for professionals in most technical fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that computer and information systems managers can expect a projected growth of 15 percent over the 2014 to 2024 decade. Meanwhile, job growth for operations specialties managers is projected at just seven percent, which is the same as the total growth anticipated for all occupations over this period.

This growth is the result of many increasing needs in this area. Retail establishments need a growing force of trained IT professionals to help them keep customer information and financial activity safe and secure. The healthcare industry is expected to pursue extensive growth in information technology as new technical programs and products become available to consumers in this area.

Career Trajectory

An IT director position is the pinnacle for many career paths. This goal is typically achieved after spending many years working up the ladder of lower and upper management positions. There are only a few positions that are higher up the ladder. Depending on your ultimate goal for career-life balance, you may find that a job as an IT director is satisfactory to hold until retirement.

However, if you do want to progress beyond this role, your best option is a job as a CTO. A company’s chief technology officer is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of the business. This includes establishing the company’s overall vision for its technical departments and its strategic direction for development and growth. You typically need a minimum of ten years’ experience in upper management, such as IT director, to land a position as a CTO.

You may also find fulfilling career advancement from a move to another business. As an IT director for a small company, you may have only minimal challenges and a small team to work with. By advancing to a fortune 500 or Fortune 100 company, you could greatly increase your salary while also obtaining a more challenging and satisfying job.

IT directors carry out a vital role that will only increase in importance as companies become more reliant on the technical aspects of business management and customer service in nearly every industry.