More than half of APAC tech professionals expect their job to be automated within ten years – finds Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017


Technology is ‘eating itself’ – continual skills development is the key to career success

Sixty two per cent of technology professionals in APAC believe a significant part of their job will be automated within ten years, rendering their current skills redundant (compared to 45 per cent globally). The change in technology is so rapid that 87 per cent believe their career would be severely limited if they didn’t teach themselves new technical skills.

This is according to the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017, representing the views of more than 3,200 technology professionals from 84 countries.

The possibility of automation varies greatly with job role, with Testers and IT Operations professionals most likely to expect their job role to be significantly affected in the next decade (67 per cent and 63 per cent respectively), and CIO/VP IT and Programme Management least affected (31 per cent and 30 per cent respectively).

Richard Goddard, MD, South East Asia, and Head of the Technology Practice, Harvey Nash Executive Search APAC, commented: “Through automation, it is possible that ten years from now the Technology function will be unrecognisable in today’s terms. Even for those roles relatively unaffected by automation, there is a major indirect effect – as up to half of their colleagues may be machines by 2027.”

In response to automation, technology professionals are prioritising learning over any other career development tactic. Self-learning is significantly more important to them than formal training or qualifications.

Despite the increase in automation, the survey reveals that technology professionals remain in high demand as the technology landscape evolves – Software Engineers and Developers were most in demand, followed by those in Analytics / Big Data roles. Respondents expect the most important technologies in the next five years to be Robotics, Augmented / Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence and Wearable Tech, as well as Big Data, Cloud and the Internet of Things. Unsurprisingly these are also the key areas that were cited as ‘hot skills to learn’.

Kirti Lad, Director of the Technology Practice, Harvey Nash Executive Search APAC, commented: “The Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017 highlights the state of flux technology careers currently face. On one side, technology is ‘eating itself’, with job roles increasingly being commoditised and automated. On the other, new opportunities are being created, especially within the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Automation. In this rapidly changing world the winners will be the technology professionals who take responsibility for their own skills development, and continually ask: ‘where am I adding value that no other person – or machine – can add?’”

Key global highlights from the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017:

  • AI growth: The biggest technology growth area is expected to be Artificial Intelligence, which 89 per cent of respondents (84 per cent in APAC) expect it to be important to their company in five years’ time, almost four times the current figure – 24 per cent (31 per cent in APAC).
  • Big Data’s big, but still unproven. 57 per cent of organisations globally (62 per cent in APAC) are implementing Big Data at least to some extent. For many, it is moving away from being an ‘experiment’ into something much more core to their business; 21 per cent say they are using it in a ‘strategic way’. Only three in ten organisations with a Big Data strategy are reporting success to date.
  • Immigration is key to the tech industry, and Brexit is a concern. The sector is overwhelmingly in favour of immigration; 73 per cent believe it is critical to their country’s competitiveness (83 per cent in APAC).       33 per cent of respondents to the Harvey Nash Technology Survey were born outside the country in which they are currently working. Almost four in ten tech immigrants in the UK are from Europe, equating to one in ten of the entire tech working population in the UK. Moreover, UK workers make up at least a fifth the tech immigrant workforce of Ireland and Germany.
  • Where are all the women? This year’s report reveals that 16 per cent of respondents are women (14 per cent in APAC); not very different from the 13 per cent who responded in 2013. The pace of change is glacial and – at this rate – it will take decades before parity is reached.
  • The tech community does not trust the cloud. Four out of ten respondents have little or no trust in how cloud companies are using their personal data, whilst a further five out of ten still have concerns despite placing their trust in these companies. Trust in cloud is affected by age (the older you are the less you trust), location and job title. Male Architects, who are 30 years old or more from North America working in Government are the least trusting.

For the latest insights from the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017 please visit:

Supporting data from the Survey (global averages):

Which technologies are important to your company now, and which do you expect to be important in five years’ time?


Five years’ time

Artificial intelligence



Big data






Internet of Things 52%


Robotics 33%


Wearable technology

37% 80%
Augmented reality 22%


Virtual reality



Mainframe 84%


Agree or disagree? Within ten years, a significant part of my job that I currently perform will be automated:

Programme Management


CIO, CTO or VP of IT

Software Engineering


Development Management / Team Leadership


Project Management




Business Analysis




Infrastructure Management / Team Leadership


BI / Analytics


IT operations




About the Survey
More than 3,245 technology professionals from 84 countries participated in the Harvey Nash Technology Survey 2017. The survey was conducted between July 14, 2016 and November 1, 2016. A wide range of technology professionals contributed, including software engineers / developers (14 per cent), technology project managers (10 per cent) and c-level technology leaders (9 per cent). For more information about the survey, an infographic of the key results and to access a full copy of the results, please visit or email

About Harvey Nash
Established in 1988, Harvey Nash has helped over half the world’s leading companies recruit, source and manage the highly skilled talent they need to succeed in an increasingly competitive, global and technology driven world. With over 7,000 experts in more than 40 offices across Europe, Asia and the USA, we have the reach and resources of a global organisation, whilst fostering a culture of innovation and agility that empowers our people across the world to respond to constantly changing client needs. We work with clients, both large and small, to deliver a portfolio of services: executive search, professional recruitment and offshore services. To learn more, please visit:

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