Job security and automation

· by Peter · Read in about 3 min · (480 words) ·

When you’ve created some solution which is essential to the company you work for, it’s tempting to make it as proprietary and as little documented as possible for obvious reason of job security. But it’s short sighted. If your value lays only in maintaining this single piece of technology you still can be replaced at some point as this technology becomes obsolete or company would buy some other solution. I’ve always opposed the idea of irreplaceable people. There are no such people. And this way of thinking can only lead to troubles, both for you and your employer.

Recently I had a small heart surgery. Nothing serious, but there was a 1% chance that I wouldn’t make it. And well, people are playing and winning lottery where chances are thinner. So before I’ve left for hospital, and after that I had planned two weeks of holidays, I’ve automated most of my tasks. I mean fully automated as they were already pretty much automated, but needed interaction from my side either to be started or during execution. Right now they’re running as scheduled and everybody in my team can check the status and restart if necessary. I’ve done it because I simply like systems/processes to run without disruptions, so I’ve eliminated myself as potential disruption.

Do I feel worried about my job security? Well, yes, but for other reasons which I won’t mention here. As for fully automating my tasks I feel it was a good decision. If my only value for company was running them then sooner or later somebody would decide that I’m too expensive to be a task scheduler. Or simply I could become tired of performing such dull tasks again and again. One way or the other it would’ve been a loss for myself.

Recently I’ve read this article on Slashdot. It’s a bit sad, but to be honest QA jobs are highly susceptible to automation. And if your employer fires you for providing good solution (automation reduces human error for one), or if it was the only solution it needs, then it wasn’t a place for you anyway. If your company isn’t evolving it’s doomed. Unless you’re one of these people who just want to do a shitty job (and don’t mind shitty company), get paid and go along with their lives. I know a lot of such people and if they’re happy this way then good for them. I was never able to do so. I’m constantly thinking on how to improve my skills and the processes involved in my daily job. If one day that would mean I’ve done everything and I won’t be needed where I currently work, fine. I’ll move elsewhere. Unless there will be real breakthrough in AI, and it probably won’t happen during my work active years, there’ll always be a place for people who are good at solving problems.