Proposed by Robert B. Cohen, PhD, Senior Fellow, Economic Strategy Institute, March 7, 2018
We have developed a classification of three groups of emerging digital occupations:
1. Data analytics – data scientists and jobs in data governance, predictive analytics, process management, and data center functions.
2. Software development and deployment – jobs with skills in software engineering, DevOps, Docker/Containers, microservices and serverless computing.
3. “Intelligence” for analytics, computing and networks – jobs in artificial intelligence and machine learning, business intelligence, cybersecurity, and network virtualization.
The skills needed for these jobs are shaped by firms’ perceived greater value in the data they collect from their web-based and internal operations. It is now more critical to capture and analyze this data in “real-time”. This insures that unwanted intrusions do not persist and cause operational problems. Firms also want to know that new software programs are functioning properly.
This means that human judgement about how to act on information becomes critical. The demand for employees to monitor and respond to data, especially large data streams, is likely to expand demand for highly paid professionals. It will also provide jobs that help firms employ data for analysis. As firms increase their dependence on data, they will need to oversee and monitor complex systems for manufacturing, service delivery and analytics. These jobs will demand human judgement and new skills to support “data-related” functions in the modern firm.
Important new skills will be needed to manage and oversee Big Data, more intelligent analytics and software development processes that will be central to businesses operations. Some of these changes will be encouraged by wider use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, visualization and other tools for sophisticated analytics:
1. Firms will need to analyze how new processes impact their operations. This will put a premium on their ability to capture and interpret data in “real time”.
2. Big Data will become indispensable. This will intensify the need to for firms to perceive what data are critical to business decisions, to amass crucial data sets and to hire those with skills to manage and oversee them. Data and how it is employed will determine a firm’s competitive status.
3. To complement data analysis, firms will restructure the development of software to assess processes. This will make it easier to deploy more streamlined tools.
While firms are just beginning to adopt more intelligent analytics and the impact on the workforce is difficult to forecast, we expect many new jobs will require high school and less-than-college-level degrees. Here are a few examples of how we expect these jobs to emerge:
1. “Domain Experts” In machine learning, there will be a need for people who are domain experts. They learn what data are crucial to evaluate a specific industry. This will support the development of machine learning software. These support jobs would offer middle-level salaries and seek high school or junior college graduates.
2. “Data Interpreters” -- Artificial intelligence can analyze project performance and provide insights that improve sales and marketing or predict staffing requirements. This will open middle-level positions for sales and marketing staff who can analyze the results and explain them to managers as well as those involved in service delivery as human resources employees who rely upon new, analytic systems.
3. “Marketing Trend Evaluators” -- Software providers are building artificial intelligence into their products. For instance, Salesforce has developed “Einstein Discovery” -- using data on customer relationships, such as sales and profitability – to give firms more insights about marketing, operations management and data development efforts. By including these tools within a packaged service, employees with more modest degrees can understand the analytic insights packages such as “Einstein Discovery” provide. These employees can interpret trends that affect sales and marketing. Many of the employees interpreting these findings are likely to be high school or junior college graduates, not Ph.D. data scientists.
4. “Data Governance and Data Management Professionals” -- As “intelligent” analysis provides firms with more insights into their operations, the size of the data that they need will expand. This will require more people to collect and manage data bases as well as employees to support the hardware and software systems that companies have built. This should expand demand for jobs with middle-level salaries that need knowledge of data collection and data storage. This is likely to occur when firms maintain their own large data collections. It is also likely to be true of professional services firms that support data analytics and at services providers maintain data centers and process information.
5. “On-Demand Support Staff” – As firms develop more service-oriented areas of their business, such as GM’s new on-demand, Zip Car-like, Maven startup1 they need employees to manage and support the vehicles that they provide. This will be more like a garage management function and will not require high levels of education.
Results of this analysis
1. What are the skill characteristics of new digital jobs that include “intelligence” – jobs in artificial intelligence and machine learning, business intelligence, cybersecurity, and network virtualization?
2. How rapidly have these jobs been growing?
3. What industries have been the key ones hiring different types of “intelligent” digital jobs?
4. How do these jobs compare to other digital jobs such as data analysts, data scientists and DevOps professionals?
5. What related jobs for “Domain Experts,” “Data Interpreters,” “Marketing Trend Evaluators,” “Data Governance and Data Management Professionals,” and “On-Demand Support Staff” are likely to develop in concert with the growth of ‘intelligent” digital occupations?
6. What jobs that support “intelligent” digital occupations are also beginning to emerge as these occupations expand?
1 Darrell Etherington,” GM’s Maven Gig is a car sharing service tailor-made for the gig economy,” May 3, 2017,” Tech Crunch, May 3, 2017. https://techcrunch.com/2017/05/03/gms-maven-gig-is-a-car-sharing-service-tailor-made-for-the-gig-economy/