Career Conversations with Avadhesh Dixit

Avadhesh Dixit

The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It
Abraham Lincoln


Disruptive Technologies: Impact on Jobs and careers

Thanks a lot for your positive response to career conversations with me! Your positive feedback on last conversation around leadership skills in the time of continuous change is highly encouraging.Your feedback should continue to flow and I promise tokeep addressing your most pressing career concerns based on what we are experiencing at workplace.In the last issue, we discussed about Leadership skills that create successful leaders and that too in times of disruptive change. In this feature, I wanted to delve int0 the related subject of Technology and its potential impact on job, careers.
As I mentioned in my previous articles, the world is going through interesting phase of its development and change. This change is marked by rapid advancement in technology across Industries and businesses. Technology is causing wide ranging disruptions in business models and the way companies operate and lead the market place. Automation has been accelerated by technologies like Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain etc. While some of these technologies are leading to higher productivity and efficiency on one hand but on the other hand are leading to considerable anxiety around future of jobs, wages, careers and future of work itself. There has not been a single management function that has not been impacted by advancement in technology.
McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) research on the automation potential of the global economy, focusing on 46 countries representing about 80 percent of the global workforce, has examined more than 2,000 work activities and quantified the technical feasibility of automating each of them.
MGI found that about 60 percent of all jobs have at least 30 percent of activities that are technically automatable, based on technologies available today. This means that most jobs will change, and more people will have to work with technology.An additional important finding is that even if whole jobs are not automated, partial automation (where only some activities that make up a job are automated) will impact almost all jobs to a greater or lesser degree, not just factory workers and clerks, but landscape gardeners and dental lab technicians, fashion designers, insurance sales representatives, and also CEOs
So how should you respond to some of these changes around you? Is this real and do you have reasons to worry? Here is the list of things that help potentially help you ride the wave of change and keep your job and career competitive!

Here you go!

  • Acknowledge the problem: The first step to finding solution to any problem is to acknowledge the problem itself. The denial is not helpful at all. It is an established fact that technological advancement is forcing organizations to relook at their business models, operating ecosystem and larger work system design. Work system design is all about how the work is being delivered by leveraging talent that may or may not reside inside the organization. All these changes definitely impact how the jobs are going to be organized and how the newer careers options will emerge. Brushing aside the problem as another fad may prove to be damaging to your long term career prospects. Hence, the first step is to accept that some of these changes are to be studied, followed and to be acted upon.
  • Assess your current skills and Bridge Gaps: Once you have acknowledged and accepted that technology and other factors like changing work system design may impact you, the next step is to take stock of your current skill set in relation to what is happening around you. Some of the questions that may help you in the process of self-assessment are as follows.
    • Is my skill-set still in demand inside my organization or outside my organization? There are good chances that newer versions of the skill (more pertinent if you work in technology) may have been discovered or entirely different technologies/skills may be required to do the job that you do? Answer to this question will tell you where you stand Vis-a Vis your environment.
    • Can my job or skill set be subjected to automation? It’s not difficult to figure this out. There are very good chances that activities of the job that are repeatable and predictable are more susceptible to automation. List down all the activities that you perform as part of the job and start assigning automation probability to all written down activities. The percentage of activities in your job which have potential to get automated will tell you the extent of automation risk that your job carries. It’s obvious that if you carry this risk then start the dialogue with your manager and HR partners for potential expansion or rotation of your job.
    • Does my job involve multi-disciplinary application of knowledge and skills? There is enough research to suggest that it is not easy to automate jobs that may involve application of multi-disciplinary skills or skills that require complex human interactions. I would wonder if jobs that involve counselling, behavioral therapy, inspiring people etc. can ever be automated fully. Some of these skills have application of emotional intelligence, relationship building, listening, language skills and communication at the core of it. You need to evaluate if your job also involves some combination of these skills.
    • Am I continuously learning and reskilling myself? Identifying gaps from the above-mentioned processes is not enough. You have to act to bridge the gaps. Remaining relevant all the time requires that one is learning all the time. Evaluate if your skills are getting obsolete and then invest time in re-skilling yourself. Learning also happens when you change jobs within the company or outside the company. You have to keep adding skills to your job at all the time. I come across people in organizations who do not make any effort to enhance their knowledge or skills or are stuck in the same job for years. There comes the time when they are staring at redundancy as newer people with newer skills are ready to replace them. By that time it’s too late to explain your relevance to the organization. Hence wake up and start that learning process here and now.
  • Functional and Technical Skills are not enough: As you move up in the organization, you will realize that functional and technical skills are not the only skills that will make you successful. Many other soft skills like people management, stakeholder management, listening, resolving conflict, empathy etc. will become very crucial to your success. Interestingly, as mentioned above, these are also skills that are tough to automate as they are multi-disciplinary in nature. Best way to develop these skills through seeking formal and informal feedback. Many organizations have formal systems in place to get 360 degree view of managers and leaders. Volunteer to participate in this process and seek feedback from your peers, bosses and subordinate and possibly your customers as well. This feedback will give you insights on your strength and improvement areas. Identify internal or external programs to develop your improvement areas and to re-enforce your strengths. You can also informally seek feedback from your close colleagues on your managerial style. Success Skills of future are surely beyond what you know as part of your functional and technical education.
  • Understand and recognize the changing work system design: I mentioned in my previous article that with the advent of sophisticated tools and technology the nature of work is undergoing tremendous change. Even the way the work is being conceived and delivered is changing rapidly. It’s not uncommon for employees to work from home, cars, hotels and airports as technology has power to enable this. This significantly changes the definition of workplace and job itself. The nature of employment is also undergoing change. Traditionally there was only one form of employment i.e. Full Time employment. With technology, people are opting to become part time workers as large variety of work can be delivered from anywhere in the world. Technology has enabled the ‘Gig Economy’ to expand. There are experts who do not want to work for only one employer but would rather prefer to offer their expertise to multiple employers. You need to evaluate if you have the capability to cope up with this kind of work and job design. While you may be comfortable in full-time job, someone ( called gigsters) will come and take away your job as they can do it from anywhere in the world and do not necessarily need organizational boundaries. The point is to remain open and vigilant about how the work systems are changing and what this means for your job and career.
  • Silver lining: Amidst all these changes on the technology side, we also have good news that comes with technological advancement. History is full of examples where many new jobs have been created by technology while it eliminated many. Every advancement in technology also comes with opportunities for jobs and alternate careers. A 2011 study by McKinsey’s Paris office found that the Internet had destroyed 500,000 jobs in France in the previous 15 years—but at the same timecreated 1.2 million others, a net addition of 700,000, or 2.4 jobs created for every job destroyed. The growing role of big data in the economy and business will create a significant need for statisticians and data analysts MGI in 2016 study estimates a shortfall of up to 250,000 data scientists in the United States alone in a decade. What we need to do is to track these changes, respond to them and keep ahead of them. It is evident that Automation fueled by Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, data science etc. is creating millions of jobs across the globe. There is no way we can stop technology from driving these changes but we can always be more prepared to adopt them and seize the opportunities they offer.

Times are going to remain disruptive and technology will disrupt jobs and careers. It will also bring opportunities along the way. Our response will decide whether we get impacted or lead the way.

Till then,

Happy Career Building!


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