RevUnit CEO disagrees with Mark Cuban on future of tech industry

by Jennifer Joyner (JJoyner@nwabj.com) 217 views 

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said fast-paced advancement in automation and artificial intelligence means the software and programming job market soon will be left in the dust, but Bentonville-based tech consultant Joe Saumweber disagrees.

Cuban, quoted in a story on Friday (March 3) for the Dallas Business Journal, said: “We’re going to be getting to the point where we’re automating the process of automation.

“So, jobs like writing software and programming that seem like great jobs, at the lower end, they’ll be gone,” Cuban said. “We’re going to come back full circle where the valuable crafts are going to be teaching, liberal arts, philosophy, math and science. Because once all the machines are doing all the work of calculating, someone’s got to interpret. You have to be a thinker. You have to learn how to learn.”

While Saumweber, CEO of the digital products company RevUnit, did not dispute the merits of careers in those fields, he also does not believe software programming will die out.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, individuals who could build websites were few and far between, he said. “It was a novelty.”

Now, many people have the skillset. In fact, one can plug into services that automatically build them, so individuals who specialized in that area had to evolve to stay in business, Saumweber said.

“Designing mobile apps will soon be more about assembling components than writing custom code,” but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a need for technical talent in the industry, he added. There will soon be another technology, another system to navigate.

“Think of tech like a language. You just have to continue to update your skillset and learn future dialects in order to stay relevant,” Saumweber said.

Cuban also said automation and artificial intelligence will mean fewer jobs at large companies – and Saumweber agrees with that prediction, but he doesn’t think it’s a problem.

The average lifespan of a company on the S&P 500 in the 1960s was 62 years, he said. Today, the lifespan is more like 12 to 15. That means “the churn is increasing.”

The pace of innovation and the capacity for scalability for smaller companies is great, and that’s where job creation lies, Saumweber said. “That’s where people are going to have to find a place in the new economy.”

That means individuals must be nimble and willing to continually update their skillsets. “No one can afford to sit on one stack anymore,” Saumweber said.

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