As the legacy providers of IT goods and services continue with layoffs in 2016, I am reminded of the power and force technology is having on our culture. As the expression goes, software is eating the world – and, in the process, a lot of traditional service delivery jobs.

I have become relatively immune to the technology services industry hype and overuse of buzzwords and jargon. As a third-party advisor, I have seen more service provider PowerPoint presentations than is healthy. The stories are often the same – a barrage of slides that include customer logos, a color coded world map, industry verticals, recent acquisitions, the service delivery framework, the transformation journey, and more logos of alliance partners.

What I have not become immune to and has grabbed my attention over the last 12-18 months is the shift from people using tools to deliver service to tools becoming the service. If you think cloud and As-a-Service are still hype you’re not paying attention. The adoption rate still lags the marketing hyperbole but make no mistake the labor component of the supply chain to deliver technology services is becoming smaller by the day.

I know Robotic Process Automation and Cognitive Computing sounds like science fiction but the future is at our doorstep. The convergence of digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence is and will continue to radically alter the technology services industry. Costs will plummet, delivery times will be instant, and data will be exponentially more accurate.

Software tools will ultimately replace the bulk of the labor in technology operations (i.e., provisioning, build, testing, maintenance, CMDB, billing, performance management, service desk, service integration, etc.). People will govern but software will deliver.

This not-so-distant future will bifurcate the service provider community. Amazon, Microsoft, and others are and will continue to evolve as vendors of low-cost transactional compute and storage services. Buyers do not have relationships with these vendors who offer standardized services in a pay-by-the-drink model. These are online transactions conducted in an efficient and affordable manner.

Other service providers will transition into strategic partner roles. Private and public sector clients will continue to need strategic support to navigate the abundance of technology choices and more importantly integrate the business strategy with the technology supply chain. The assembly and orchestration of the ecosystem of technology supply chain vendors and partners, all synchronized to deliver a business offering to an end-user, will separate the market leaders from the pack. The strategic partner will evolve from a service provider to a service conductor, curating from a host of internal and external sources to create the perfect blend of technology components in delivering a product or service.

Technology will continue to evolve and play an ever-increasing role in our society. Although thousands of service provider jobs are being eliminated, many more jobs are being created everyday in support of the information age and the digital economy. Data science, social media marketing, data security, and machine learning are all rapidly expanding. Curation and integration of these technologies within the ecosystem will determine success.

As Bob Dylan once put it, “He not busy being born is busy dying.” So, are you busy becoming a vendor or a partner, or just busy dying?