Throughout history technology has shaped the way society works and interacts. However, the events of 2020 have triggered an unprecedented dependence on its ability. Whether it be facilitating remote work and ensuring organisation’s can keep functioning, allowing people to stay in touch with families and friends whilst isolating or helping to process covid test results at a rapid rate, technology has been at the forefront of the world’s COVID-19 recovery plan.
Society’s growing reliance on technology has not only forced organisations – particularly in the public sector- to reprioritise their technology objectives but has created new opportunities for organisations and individuals to adapt and thrive as we enter 2021.
Below, we identify both the key and emerging technology sectors predicted for this year and the resulting job titles that are expected to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.
There’s no question that cybersecurity is a top priority among business leaders and organisations, especially within the public sector which often deals with highly sensitive information that can impact both personal and national safety. What’s more, many security issues have arisen from the influx of people working from home on personal devices or using company hardware while battling against an unprecedented volume of users.
According to Cybercrime Magazine, cybercrime damage costs are predicted to hit $6 trillion annually by 2021. These damage costs could include the damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity and the theft of intellectual property and personal and financial data. Consequently, it is estimated that the cybersecurity spending on protecting an organisation or individual’s data will exceed $1 trillion by 2021.
Indeed, last year Australia’s minister for Home Affairs The Hon Peter Dutton, announced Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy for 2020 will invest $1.67 billion over the next 10 years into delivering a more secure online world for Australians. The strategy also signifies the government’s biggest ever investment in cyber security and is expected to create over 500 jobs for the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). Meanwhile, the NSW government announced in December that it will invest $60 million into its central cyber security team as part of the state’s broader plan to boost its cyber security capability.
Deborah Walker who’s a partner at IBM, predicts these government initiatives will lead to an explosion in demand for people with cyber security experience. Especially for those within within security operations, risk and compliance, cloud security and architecture and Identity and Privileged Access Management.
"Security teams are really going to have to transition from the people you call when you need help, to actually being a vital part of senior leadership and developing a strategy," Walker says.
In 2021, data makes the world go round! With the growing popularity in smart devices and sharing information through cloud-based software – a trend that accelerated in 2020 with the drastic surge in remote work - we’re presented with a bevy of data that can benefit organisations and boost revenue. All that’s required are the resources to filter through and analyse the data. This is where Data Scientists come in; the people whose strong understanding in machine learning algorithms, data models, programming languages and statistics, allows them to highlight business issues, provide solutions and forecast trends.
A real-life example of this can be shown within online retailers such as Amazon or Netflix which both store key information from their customers like birth dates, viewing habits, search histories etc. in order to create personalised recommendations and efficient customer care. The value of storing and processing vital user information has not only benefited the e-commerce industry, but also the healthcare, banking and finance and manufacturing industries, playing a crucial role in developing new strategies to combat and live through the pandemic.
The need for data scientists and data analysts is only expected to grow in 2021 as technology continues to evolve and older models cease to reflect our new world. This is reflected in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, which listed both data analysts and scientists as two of the top job roles that will experience an increase in demand across all industries over the next few years.
Sue Keay who is the research director for a leading data science research and engineering firm Data61, has claimed that there are currently eight times as many Artificial Intelligence (AI) jobs in Queensland than there are people to fill them. Why the sudden surge in AI?
Firstly, due to the pandemic the need to increase automation has grown as we’ve been forced to physically isolate. A great example of this, is the investment in chatbots for many customer-centric businesses. Chatbots are a software application which can simulate and process human conversation (either written or verbal) which decreases the need for human intervention. They’ve become increasingly advantageous during COVID-19, as they enable businesses to interact with their customers during non-working hours or when staff or customers aren’t able to physically visit an office or shop front. Another common AI example that’s been utilized during the pandemic is voice recognition technology, which minimises the need to touch surfaces or public amenities. Not to mention the added convenience it provides. Global business data platform Statista predicts that eight-billion digital voice assistants will be used globally by 2023 and that device-users around the world will use voice commands more often, instead of typing.
Secondly, the mass transition to remote work in 2020 has meant that cloud providers like AWS, Google, Oracle and IBM have had to embed and expand their AI offerings for public and hybrid cloud deployments, as more and more workers are required to access and store data remotely.
Given the wide variety of tasks that have the potential to be automated by AI- and with automation becoming increasingly important in a post-COVID world- the demand for AI experts is set to increase across a broad array of sectors from banking to e-commerce and agriculture.
Renewable energy and ‘green tech’
Renewable energy and sustainable living have become increasingly important over the last few years and this is expected to continue into 2021 as countries across the world make greater commitments towards minimising global warming effects. In Australia, several states have already outlined new renewable energy investments for their 2020/2021 budgets. Meanwhile the federal budget has outlined initiatives for advancements on waste and recycling policies, the expansion of Australia’s gas industry and a regional hydrogen export hub; projects aimed to commence this year.
For these initiatives to be actioned and delivered, they will need to be supported by technology; in terms of both software programming and hardware and equipment. Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities Andrew Leigh predicts that based on the current deal flow, we’ll see a number of tech jobs available in installing solar panels and windmills as states begin to action their renewable energy objectives. CEO of Cicada Innovations and former Google executive Sally-Ann Williams supports this belief, claiming that while issues around clean energy and sustainable cities require multifaced solutions, they will also provide a lot of opportunities for the tech industry to help particularly with jobs in software engineering, machine learning and product roles in data.
There will also be a rise in cleantech companies (like Solar City and Tesla Motors) who develop products or services for a dedicated sector of the cleantech market, like solar cell manufacturing, lighting and insulation solutions or biofuel technology.
‘Change’ became a prominent theme in 2020, with organisations and individuals having to drastically adapt and alter their processes to endure through COVID-19. However, for change to be successful, it needs to be effectively managed and measured. This is where change Facilitators, Project Managers and Change Managers became increasingly important, guiding companies through building their own solutions, seeking solutions from third parties and tracking progress.
In regards to technology, a big part of change management for 2020 was optimising digital communication and moving analogue processes and systems to a cloud-based platform. This trend will continue as many organisations make remote working policies more permanent. Consequently, those with a tech background in change management, logistics and operations will find an increased demand for their services in 2021, as organisations continue to rebuild and adapt to ‘the new normal’.
There’s no doubt that over the next year, workplaces will witness rapid change in their core functions and processes, with technology playing an integral role in how this change is managed and utilised to help grow and develop. To find out more about how this will impact Australia’s IT job market, or even the current job opportunities within IT, feel free to reach out to Public Sector People’s dedicated IT consultant Cheri Randell to see how she can help with your job search:
Phone: 0466 699 297