Did you know that 70% of occupations in today’s marketplace will be automated or obsolete by the end of this century!
This is a stunning prediction that is hard to believe but it is happening before our eyes.
For those of you who find this hard to comprehend, this sort of job displacement has happened numerous times in the past . . . even in the last century. For example:
- In the last 60 years, agriculture’s share of workers has seen an 80% drop!
- Also, in the same period, manufacturing has lost 60% of its market share of workers
As technology, society, and our economies advance, the workplace has seen, is seeing, and will continue to see massive changes and upheavals.
Occupations That Will Be Obsolete or Highly Automated
Take for example, the two following occupations:
Professional Drivers – Uber, Lyft, Curb, Didi Chuxing, Grab, and Ola are revolutionizing the traditional taxi and limo marketplace. Although they are not currently automating the drivers themselves, they have already automated many aspects of this traditional marketspace including the roles of dispatcher, customer service, and payment transaction. More importantly they are paving the way for complete driver automation. Once this happens, it will displace taxi and limo drivers as well as truck drivers. This will impact over 4,000,000 people in North America alone!
- According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately 233,000 taxi and limo drivers in the US.
- The American Trucker Association estimates that there are over 3,500,000 professional truck drivers in the US.
- The Canadian Taxi Association has over 50,000 drivers
- There are over 220,000 truck drivers in Canada
Programmers – Although this profession will never be completely automated, there are many aspects of it that have already been automated. With the advent of object oriented programming and other advanced features of the newer programming languages and environments, much of the brute force programming that was required in the past is now obsolete.
It used to take an army of website programmers to get your business onto the web. Today, anyone with 20 minutes of spare time can program a functional website on platforms like Squarespace.com and WordPress.com. Because of technology advances, this trend will only continue and accelerate.
In addition to professional drivers and programmers, the following occupations as we know them today will quickly become obsolete:
- Heavy equipment operators
- Many aspects of the traditional surveying trade
- Parking meter attendants
- Farm equipment operators
- Train operators and subway operators
- Air traffic controllers
- Airport security (Singapore is rolling out its new facial recognition software at its airport later this year making it possible to check in and, theoretically, proceed through security without talking to anyone!)
- Call center operators
Essentially, any role that can be systematized and handled programmatically with existing or new technologies is being automated and will be automated.
Big Change = Big Opportunity
The trend of job obsolescence is not something to fear and protest against. This article is not meant to contribute to fearmongering but rather it is a call to action for all business leaders.
In the past, this massive shift in society created new fields of study and new occupations that no one had even imagined. This occurred during the shift from the agrarian economy to the industrial economy and then to the knowledge economy and now into the information or network economy. In like manner, new fields of study and new occupations will continue to be created as the economy continually transitions in the future.
Yes, there may be periods of unemployment experienced by some people. There will definitely be retraining required for anyone who wants to remain employed and productive.
So, what is the role of business leaders in this sea of change?
Business Leader Role in This New World
Idealistically, our job as business leaders is to create jobs for society while creating profit for ourselves. This profit enables us to invest in other areas and create more jobs. It also funds and enables society to develop productively and sustainably.
The opportunities today and in the future for business leaders and entrepreneurs is unprecedented! For example, consider this short list of incredible, society-impacting trends:
- Increasing processor speeds
- Decreasing processor costs
- Cloud based processing
- Ubiquitous internet connectivity
- Increasing speed of internet connections
- Growth of artificial intelligence
- Growth in machine learning
- Demographic changes in countries like India and Africa
- Global political change
- Advances in medicine
- Agricultural advances
- Facial recognition
- General increase in the speed of knowledge growth across all technical disciplines
- Shift from centralized power generation and transmission to localized and “personalized” low cost and prolific power generation
There are an infinite number of business opportunities available for creative entrepreneurs and business leaders within this short list of trends. There are also many roles, careers, jobs, and disciplines contained in these trends that are not yet defined or even comprehended!
What Can Business Leaders Do to Prepare for the Change?
So, as business leaders, what can we do to take advantage of this massive change that we are seeing and will continue to see? How do we create sustainable and profitable businesses and new jobs?
Here are thirteen suggestions to start you off:
- Firstly, study market trends and stay in front of them. What new marketplace trends are emerging that you can leverage?
- Continuously learn and cultivate a learning mindset. Furthermore, always be on the lookout for new perspectives, creative ideas and disruptive innovations.
- Stay abreast of developments across a diverse set of industries. The awareness across multiple industries can result in “cross-pollination” ideas that spawn completely new industries and technologies.
- Continuously teach others. What does your business possess that other industries may benefit from? How can you teach this and profit from it?
- Search out existing technologies that you can leverage in your business.
- Determine what you can automate in your business and get it done.
- Stay current with your industry. What information is business intelligence yielding that points to a shift in your industry that you can leverage?
- Find existing automation that you can leverage to make your business stronger and more competitive.
- Determine what technology needs to exist to advance your business. Can your business invent it and bring it to market?
- Mine your business data and leverage it into new business opportunities.
- Find labor sources that are now available (because of automation) that your business can leverage (see Men Without Work)
- Decide what “low-demand” roles exist in your business that you can retrain for a new, high demand role
- Finally, “bake” items 1 to 12 into your company culture!
Call to Action
Firstly, make sure that your business strategy and goals take into account the changing business landscape. Secondly, it is critical that you regularly set aside time for learning, reflection, review, and strategic planning. Build this practice into your calendar today and stay on top of the points listed above. Finally, continuously innovate and create employment and value in the marketplace!
Also, take a look at these related articles for more information:
- 8 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Artificial Intelligence
- How To Reduce Your Workload and Get More Done
- 9 Warning Signs That Your Business is in Danger
- How to Use the Cloud to Empower Your Business
“Men of genius sometimes accomplish most when they work the least, for they are thinking out inventions and forming in their minds the perfect idea that they subsequently express with their hands.” Leonardo da Vinci
What is your experience with job automation and obsolescence? Leave your comments below!
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