As 2019 draws to a close, we look forward to 2020 and the tech trends it will bring. With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, annual trend predictions can quickly seem out of date, even before industry commentators can research, write and publish an article or blog post!  

Tech careers don’t change at quite such a pace, however, they do evolve; hiring companies will require different skill sets according to the landscape. Savvy IT professionals will acknowledge and embrace the fact that the role he or she is playing will not remain static. A truly 21st-century worker will need to react and be agile. Out of necessity, if not desire, professionals will need to grow with the market. They will need to embrace learning to ensure their CV remains up to date and relevant. 

IT professionals will need to keep their eyes facing forward to know which skills will be required by hiring companies and what jobs they will be looking to fill.  

Here are some of the tech trends you should watch for in 2020, and some of the jobs that will be created by these trends.

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Artificial Intelligence (AI):

Already enjoying rockstar status, AI has topped the ‘tech trends’ listings for several years. This looks set to continue into 2020, mainly due to the impact it has on every aspect of our lives. Its effects are in such early stages, AI is one area that will only continue to become more influential. We can guarantee we’ll still be writing about this phenomenon this time next year!!  

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.  

It is estimated that 5 out of 6 American use some form of AI every day…think navigation apps, streaming services, smartphone personal assistants. The list goes on and on. It is not just consumer use where AI is making waves. AI is used broadly across all industry. It schedules trains. It can assess business risk, improve energy efficiency as well as perform many other money-saving tasks.

Automation is a hot topic because of potential job loss. Experts predict that automation will eliminate 73 million more jobs by 2030. However, the future is not 100% bleak. Automation is creating jobs as well as eliminating them, especially in the field of AI. Analysts predict that jobs in AI will number 23 million by 2020.  

Potential opportunities in this area will include development, programming, testing, support and maintenance, to name only a few. Some insiders reflect that the role of Artificial Intelligence Architect could even overtake Data Scientist as the most coveted by companies.  

Machine Learning (ML).

Machine Learning is a subset of AI, and is one of the tech trends that looks set to continue on its upward trajectory. Within ML, computers are programmed to learn to do something they are not programmed to do. They learn by discovering patterns and insights garnered from data. It is worth noting that we have two types of learning; supervised and unsupervised.

Machine Learning is rapidly being deployed in all kinds of industries, and in turn, is creating a huge demand for skilled professionals.  

Machine Learning applications are used broadly. Data analytics, data mining and pattern recognition all use ML. On the consumer end, Machine Learning powers your daily Google search, real-time ads and network intrusion detection.    

It is also creating a wealth of jobs. Machine Learning jobs include engineering roles, developers, researchers, and data scientists.  

Machine Learning has multiple subsets; neural networks, natural language processing (NLP), and deep learning for example. Perhaps then it’s not surprising that Machine Learning jobs rank among the top emerging jobs on LinkedIn.  

These jobs also pay well. According to data from Indeed, the average ML Engineer salary in London is just shy of £70k. 

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Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Just like AI and ML, RPA is another technology which is automating jobs. RPA is the use of software to automate business processes. Businesses use it to interpret applications, process transactions, deal with data, and even respond to emails. In short, RPA does the repetitive tasks that people (used to) do.

Don’t be fooled though. These tasks are not only the ‘menial’ tasks conducted by those at a lower pay grade. A huge 45% of tasks we do can be automated. This includes the work of financial managers, doctors and CEOs.

According to some research, it’s estimated that RPA automation will threaten the jobs of approximately 9% of the global population; less than 5% of occupations can be TOTALLY automated, although about 60% can be partially automated. 

However, as before, RPA is creating new jobs while altering existing ones and RPA offers plenty of career opportunities. Forward-thinking IT professionals can hope to work as developers, project managers, business analysts, solution architects and consultants within the RPA space.

As with ML, these positions command high salaries. In London RPA salaries across all disciplines range between £65-80K.

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Edge Computing.

Edge Computing is the “move on” from Cloud computing; a former ‘tech to watch’ heavyweight. Once emergent tech, Cloud computing has become mainstream with major players AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud and is one of the tech trends that’s dominating the market.  

More and more businesses are adopting cloud technologies and migrating to a cloud solution. However, in some situations, cloud solutions have shortcomings. As the quantity of data we’re dealing with continues to increase, Edge Computing has stepped up to help solve some of those problems. It is a way to bypass the latency caused by cloud computing and speeds up getting data to a data center for processing.  

Under cloud computing, It can take up to two seconds to relay the information to the centralized data center; thus delaying the decision-making process. This latency can lead to the organisation incurring losses. The process of Edge computing is faster, and as such, some organisations prefer edge computing to cloud computing. 

Edge computing can be used to process time-sensitive data in remote locations with limited or no connectivity to a centralised location. In those situations, edge computing can act like mini datacenters. It can exist “on the edge”; closer to where computing needs to happen.  

As our use of IoT devices increases, so will the need for Edge Computing. By 2022, the global Edge computing market is set to reach $6.72 billion. As with any emerging market, this will create a host of jobs. However, if you are a software engineer then your skills will be in particularly high demand.  

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Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

VR immerses the user in an environment while Augmented Reality enhances that experience. Thus far, VR has primarily been used in gaming. However, it is increasingly being used for skills training. For example, the U.S. Navy, Army and Coast Guard are using simulation software, VirtualShip to train their ship captains.

The VR and AR tech trends look set to go beyond gaming in 2020 and realise the full potential of these technologies. VR and AR have massive capabilities and could revolutionise the worlds of training, entertainment, education, marketing, and even therapy and rehabilitation.  

Either discipline could be used to train doctors to perform surgery, offer museum-goers a deeper experience, enhance theme park attractions, or even strengthen marketing propositions. The recent Pepsi Max Bus Shelter campaign on Oxford Street is a great example of how AR can be used to take advertising to the next level!!

Of course, there are some major big-name players…Google, Samsung and Oculus are just 3. However, this emergent trend is encouraging the formation of challengers. Savvy entrepreneurs are noticing a gap, and these startups are hiring! The demand for professionals with VR and AR skills will only increase.  

If you are a tech professional looking for a change of direction, you may like to consider the VR realm; getting started in VR doesn’t require a lot of specialised knowledge. Basic programming skills and a forward-thinking mindset may grant you an interview. However, it is worth noting that many employers will be looking for hardware engineers and a history working with optics.

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In the simplest of terms, blockchain can be described as data you can only add to, not take away from or change. Hence the term “chain”; because you’re making a chain of data. It is so secure because of this chain…not being able to change the previous blocks is what makes it so robust.  

Although commonly associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Blockchain Technology offers security that is useful in many other ways. Its multiple applications mean it looks set to be one of the huge tech trends for 2020. 

In fact, many industries are turning to the use of blockchain technology as a security solution. For example, government and corporate spending on blockchain technologies are estimated to reach $12 billion by 2022. If you are a blockchain expert then your skills will be in high demand across both the public and private sectors.

As our use of blockchain increases so too will the demand for skilled professionals. According to research, blockchain-related jobs are the second-fastest-growing category of jobs, with 14 job openings for every one blockchain developer. In this respect, we are already behind!!

Should you wish to make a career change and are interested in this fast-moving and dynamic tech then now is the time to light up your learning efforts. 

A blockchain developer specialising in developing and implementing architecture and solutions using blockchain technology can expect to command a salary in the region of £100,000.  

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Internet of Things (IoT).

The list of “things” now being designed and built with the capabilities to hook up to the internet (and each other) is growing. This phenomenon is known as The Internet of Things…it is “the future”! The IoT looks set to continue growing into one of the biggest tech trends in 2020 as it is now being embedded in many of the ‘smart’ products being sold for homes. 

The number of these enabled devices; home appliances, cars and much more that connect to and exchange data over the internet is huge. To put this upward trajectory into context, the number of IoT devices reached 8.4 billion in 2017. By the end of 2020, this number is set to reach a massive 30 billion.  

As consumers, we have long reaped the benefits of IoT. Business and industry too, have a lot to gain. As data is collected and analysed, the IoT can enable better safety, efficiency and decision making. It can enable predictive maintenance, speed up medical care, improve customer service, as well as offer benefits we haven’t even imagined yet.

Despite this boom, industry insiders remark that not enough IT professionals are getting trained for IoT jobs. Some analysts suggest that we’ll need 200,000 more IT workers that aren’t yet in the pipeline. One survey of engineers found that almost 26% believe inadequate skill levels to be the industry’s biggest obstacle to growth.

The IoT arena is wide and varied. The “things” falling under the IoT umbrella are diverse, meaning that the skills needed to work within it are too. Motivated professionals with skills in IoT security, cloud computing, data analytics, automation, understanding of embedded systems and device knowledge will be welcomed with open arms by hiring companies looking to extend their intelligent systems capabilities.  

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Given that it has been around for a while, cybersecurity may not appear to be emerging tech. However, it is evolving just the same, earning it a spot on a top tech trends round-up!

It has to be agile. Cyberthreats are constantly new, as is the technology that malevolent hackers are using in an attempt to illegally access our data and breach systems. Like a dog with a bone, these hackers are also unlikely to give up. They will constantly ramp up their efforts to break through even the toughest security measures.  

In evidence of the strong need for cybersecurity professionals, the number of cybersecurity jobs is growing three times more rapidly than any other tech job. However, we are falling short. It has been widely documented that there is a significant skill and training gap within this discipline. It’s predicted that we will have 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021.

Many cybersecurity jobs pay 6 figure salaries with roles ranging from ethical hacker to security engineer to Chief Security Officer….

In short, cybersecurity offers a promising and reliable career path for someone who wants to enter and stick to a career in this field.

What will 2020 bring for you?

If you have found 2019 to be unfulfilling in terms of your career then why not treat 2020 as a fresh start. Maybe you are looking to jump into one of these emerging trends, learn new skills or grow and develop your role. We are experts in our field and would love to help you realise your goals. Our progressive and transformative clients cover a host of sectors. Whether you are a fresh grad at the start of your career or an experienced professional looking to make a change we are confident that we can help you take the next step.  

Get in touch with us today!


About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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