CompTIA’s annual industry outlook reports usually start by describing the size and shape of the IT industry. For many years, this description served as a good indicator for the trajectory of technology. The vital stats for IT have shown an industry growing past $5 trillion in global revenue, expanding beyond highly developed geographies, and evolving from foundational pieces into complex solutions.
But as impressive as the numbers have been, they don’t tell the full story. The widespread use of computing technology has been compared to the widespread use of manufacturing that ushered in the Industrial Revolution, which implies decades of socioeconomic change following the early stages of adoption. There are many signals suggesting that technology’s early stages are coming to an end, and CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook 2022 looks at how a more mature tech sector is impacting the rest of the economy.
Tech’s Impact on the Job Market
One of the most obvious ripple effects is in the job market. Headlines often warn us about automation and AI displacing job roles, but they aren’t quite as quick to note that the same thing has happened with every major advance in the way work gets done. That’s not to say the transition is easy. The Industrial Revolution created countless jobs as factories burst onto the scene, but it took nearly 200 years to stabilize the disruption of the previous way of life.
Hopefully we won’t have to wait quite that long. According to The Future of Jobs 2020 report from the World Economic Forum, technology will possibly disrupt 85 million jobs globally by 2025, but 97 million new roles will potentially emerge. Along the same lines, CompTIA’s Cyberstates report finds that the IT services and custom software development services sector has an estimated jobs multiplier of 4.8. This means for every job in this tech subsector, an estimated 4.8 additional jobs are created or supported through direct, indirect, or induced means.
Technology Disrupting Verticals
Another way that tech is making its presence known is by disrupting other verticals. Take healthcare for instance. According to the CDC, telehealth visits increased by 50% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the first quarter of 2019. Obviously, this number was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s highly likely that virtual visits will continue growing as an option for many people. In addition, technology solutions such as wearables are making it easier for people with heart ailments, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses to keep real-time track of their health status.
Or consider the field of education. Learning got a sharp wakeup call during COVID, with an abrupt move to online classes for students as young as kindergarten on up through college. Again, there will be a rebalancing as we move further away from the pandemic, but at a minimum technology is providing an option that may make snow days a thing of the past. Given the growing demand for skilled workers, the use of technology to make education more accessible will drive big changes, especially in higher learning.
Other ripple effects are just beginning to break the surface. These are changes that define the structure of society, building on the way technology has changed behavior. For example, the conversation around smart cities up to this point has been around the installation of new technology to automate routine activities or provide data to city planners. Moving forward, the function of the city itself will change as citizens have different needs around commuting, shopping, or entertainment. Technology may not always be a component of new architecture, but new architecture will be driven by the use of technology.
Zooming out even further, the care of the planet will be heavily influenced by technology. Although technology currently creates some climate concerns (the energy used for mining cryptocurrency comes to mind), it can also help measure and solve many of the problems we currently face. Aside from any direct application, the long-term use of resources and dictates of government will build on a digital worldview.
Second- and third-order effects can be hard to predict. Few people in the mid-1700s would have looked at a steam engine and immediately thought “Ah! This will lead us out of the fields and into major cities connected by high-volume transportation lanes.” And yet that’s exactly what happened. All we know for sure is that change is coming, and the tech industry will be the driving force.
For more on the future of the technology industry, including the way that new strategies will impact technology firms and the IT workforce, download CompTIA’s IT Industry Outlook 2022.