The Great Tech Redundancy is here again

There’s been a lot of talk about new themes in employment such as the Great Resignation and ‘quiet quitting’. Such trends probably gave the illusion that employees are in better control these days over their work situations and prospects.

Events this week may have put a blow to all that, especially in the tech field. The Great Redundancy, it seems, is here once more. But how much is this down to technology itself?

First, let’s recap the big enterprise names who’ve made big cuts recently. Salesforce announced it was cutting jobs on Tuesday, with the exact number unknown but hovering below a thousand.

Microsoft got in early on the trend in October, making one percent of its workforce redundant, including Azure personnel.

Also, as we no doubt all know, Elon Musk took over Twitter and laid off roughly half of the social media giant’s staff worldwide, 3850 in total according to Layoffstracker.com. Meta did the same around the same time as Salesforce, shedding 11,025 (13%) of its global workforce.

We’ve been here before. For all the talk of the pandemic’s boom to tech, COVID-19 was where the Great Redundancy began in technology (the same time as all other industries). According to Layoffs.fyi, 215,146 employees have been laid off by 1315 tech companies since the pandemic.

Not all of these were startups; Automation Anywhere (AA), for one, laid off 10 percent of its staff in April 2020. There is some irony that AA is now boldly promising to bring automation to a “billion more workers” with its RPA software. 

What does this all say about technology and the workforce? Looking at AA, the easy conclusion is that more automation means less need for humans. The other conclusion: remote work as made possible by tech hasn’t actually set the workforce free; instead, it is still working at the whims of profit-driven entities. Musk for one has demanded an end to remote working at Twitter. It would be fair to assume the CEO is no fan of quiet quitting.

But something is being overlooked here. For automation to work – and all manners of similar technology that may pose risks to human-centric jobs – you still need people to make, code and deploy the tech behind the screen.

There aren’t enough of those people; as our next issue of ERP Today Magazine will explore, there lingers a serious deficit in the kind of tech skills which will future-proof job prospects in the face of the advancing Industry 4.0. AA, for one, may be helping to tackle this with their latest, citizen dev-leaning solutions.

And yet, Big Tech is making big cutbacks. If we look at Twitter, there are reports that cuts have been made on the cybersecurity side, putting user privacy and security at risk on the website.

No bot is going to guarantee your cybersecurity. And no bot is going to take away your job – especially if developers are being dropped left, right and centre.

Only companies will take away your job. And there is some lack of foresight here if tech companies are self-sabotaging their own prospects.

What comes next? Well, with ongoing war, energy crises and future recessions, it’ll be more of the same.

Another likely outcome: the more companies are callous with their staff, the more chance of another Great Resignation. After all, the main reason employees became bolder to try new roles and career paths wasn’t because of remote work.

It was because they realized how dispensable they were.