"Outsourcing has been overhyped, and the impact of automation has been subsequently overlooked," says Neil MacDonald, an analyst with Gartner. "Over the next 10 years, the rate of IT job loss that can be attributed to automation will be about double of what we think will be due to outsourcing."
The impact will be felt predominately by internal IT organizations, but external service providers will also see a drop in headcount as automation increasingly replaces more menial IT jobs, he says.
"It's not all doom and gloom," MacDonald says. "New jobs will be created around business-process management and relationship management."
The job loss from IT workers involved in "task-oriented roles" could be up to 40% and will total tens of thousands of jobs, he says.
The evolution of the IT worker's role is really nothing new, however. The change is analogous to the shift that has occurred in manufacturing in the United States over the past 50 years, MacDonald says. Although the total number of manufacturing jobs has significantly decreased, manufacturing productivity has doubled, and the percentage of manufacturing's contribution to the country's gross domestic product has remained constant.