The Fourth Industrial Revolution & the Employment Skills You Need to Survive It

An axiom reminds us that the lessons of yesterday do not always prepare us for the needs of tomorrow.

A recent post about developing future-ready work skills generated reader interest (Are You Second-Skilling?) and today’s post borrows this same theme. The infographic below provide insights about how to develop a skill-set that doesn’t become obsolete. For some readers, this information will help you focus on the education or training you need as you embark on your career. For others, this is a reminder of the skills you will need to upgrade or ‘second-skill’ in order to be competitive in the job market.


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

 

Source – Guthrie Jenson

Who Owns Who?

President Trump has recently created a(nother) media stir by expressing his concern about the selling power of the on-line retail giant we call Amazon. While personal opinions about this matter will vary, it signals a quiet but important industry trend – the consolidation of companies. We cannot assume that a business’s name is synonymous with ownership.

For example, did you know that Amazon owns IMDB, Twitch and Whole Foods? Or that eBay owns Craigslist and StubHub? Or that Apple owns Shazam (yes, that’s why ‘OK Google’ can’t tell you song titles like Siri can!). The chart below is one helpful way to understand the complex web of brand ownership

While you may (or may not) find this chart interesting, it contains an important lesson. In an increasingly connected society we need to do our homework. If you are selective about who you do business with, you need to spend time researching who owns who!


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

 

Chart Source

 

Are You Second-Skilling?

During a conversation with a colleague, she noted that she believes her job will be automated in the next five years. At a glance, her job of valuating the invisible worth of companies sounds like a complex task. However, she is close enough to technology to realize that these calculations are an algorithm that can be accomplished by a computer.

It’s a fact – the rapid pace of change is changing the way we do business. In turn, this is shifting what we need to do to stay employed. So how are you developing employable skills amidst this change?

A recent TED article highlighted a useful idea that is being utilized in a country with an unemployment rate of only 2%. Singapore had double-digit unemployment and low workforce literacy in the 1960’s. It has since vaulted to the status of a highly successful country which has a gross domestic product that is 300 percent higher than the global average (Oakley). So, what is their competitive advantage?

Barbara Oakley’s research reveals that Singapore has a national program which encourages education. And more recently, the focus has been on re-education. Called ‘second-skilling‘ or ‘upskilling‘, the premise is simple – facilitate ongoing training to help workers adapt to an adaptive workplace. Oakley compares this to metaphors of stepping stones and conveyor belts. In previous decades, each job was a stepping stone which led to the next one. This stepping stone model is logical and paced to the needs of the employee. In contrast, modern business is more of a conveyor belt, constantly moving and progressing. The choice of stepping where and when we wish is different as we shift from a stepping stone to a conveyor economy. Therefore, employability requires constant change to keep up (is anyone else picturing Lucy stuffing chocolates in her mouth at the end of the chocolate factory conveyor belt?). However, while our businesses move forward, it cannot be assumed that workers will also develop at the same pace. This requires intentional effort.

Developing second skills will require training which is outside of the scope of an employee’s current job or career. To facilitate this, Singapore’s government provides annual grants for citizens who want to upskill. This allows ongoing development of skills which can help expand knowledge, skills and employability.

The premise is simple – productive employees need to advance the pace of their personal conveyor belts. While some employers may facilitate this, many will be reluctant to invest in training which may not directly benefit themselves. Therefore, the force behind second-skilling will likely need to be self-motivated or incentivized by government agencies.


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

 

Source: Barbara Oakley

The Impact of Baby Boomers

Did you know that 1 in 5 people in the North America workforce is of retirement age?

Toffler Associates remind us that 21.7% of the workforce n 2014 were between 65 and and 74 years of age. A common theme in my work is the need for organizations to leverage an increasingly multi-generational workforce. The infographic below provides a useful reminder about the impacts an aging society will have on our lives and our organizations.

 

 


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Toffler Associates

Trend Watch: Truthful Consumerism

The Trendwatching organization released a 4 minute video that provides helpful insights about emerging trends which are impacting our businesses. In it, they address rising societal concerns related to globalization, inequality, mass migration, and technology. More importantly, they provide some suggestions of how organizations should respond in order to succeed in this shifting environment. Watch the video below to find out some tips which will help you succeed in the future.


Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Trendwatching.com

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Five Jobs Robots Will Take Last

Last week I shared a post called “The Five Jobs Robots Will Take First”. It reminded us that technology is eating into a job market that used to be done by us! In today’s post, we will review the opposite – jobs that robots cannot do! See if you can spot the common theme through these careers. Credit for the great content below goes to Shelly Palmer!

_______________________________

1. Pre-school and Elementary School Teacher

Unless we are trying to turn our children into little computers, we cannot let computers train our children. (“Singularity” people, I know what you’re going to say. The Kurzweilian future is now estimated to begin in the year 2045. There will have to be a minimum age law associated with human/machine integration.) I can imagine a robot kneeling beside a sobbing five-year-old (who just figured out that his mom packed PB&J instead of a bologna sandwich) and offering comfort and a shoulder to cry on, but the robot is unlikely to provide an emotionally satisfying outcome. We teach our children to be human. If we want them to grow up to be human, they will have to be trained by their own kind.

2. Professional Athlete

Would football be interesting if it were played by robots? Maybe. Would it be fair to put human athletes on the field of play against robots? Probably not. Using today’s regulation clubs and balls, robot golfers would consistently shoot in the high 40s to low 50s. What’s the point? As long as humans strive for athletic excellence, humans will need to play sports. What about surgically enhanced, genetically modified athletes? That’s for another article.

3. Politician

Politics and humanity are inextricably linked. The complex mix of subtlety and nuance required to become a successful politician is not in the current purview of AI. It’s a training set that would require a level of general intelligence that is far beyond the reach of near-term technology. Machines do not need politics; they “live” in a meritocracy. Humans live in anything but. As long as fairness and equality are important topics, humans will be the only ones on the political scene. Some of you will remind me that all politicians have the same goal: to get reelected. And therefore, politicians should be very easy to program. Nope. Sadly, politicians will be among the very last professionals to lose their jobs to AI. (They are also in a unique position to legislate their own job security.)

4. Judge

Judges, adjudicators, arbitrators, and people who judge baking contests or Olympic sports or any type of contests that require both objective and subjective assessments have practically robot-proof jobs. Subjective judgment requires vast general knowledge. It also requires a thorough understanding of the ramifications of your decisions and, most importantly, a precise ability to play “I know, that you know, that I know” with the parties who are directly involved, as well as the public at large. If you can make a living judging baking contests, you’ve got lifetime job security (as long as you don’t eat too many pies).

5. Mental Health Professional

Psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals will simply be the last jobs robots can take. Sure, we could do a combination natural language understanding, automatic speech recognition system tied to a competent AI system that would make a fine suicide prevention chatbot. But there’s much more to understanding and treating mental health issues. Again, humans are better equipped to understand other humans. This is not to say that medical professionals won’t leverage AI systems to do a better job, but the ability to create a robot that could take the job of a trusted psychiatrist will be outside of our technical reach until we have functioning WestWorld-style robots. And even then, it will be a reach.

By this point you have likely noticed the common link in all of these careers – humanity. I encourage you to extend this same principle into your own career aspirations. Is your work humanity-based? If so, your job could likely be added to this list. However, if you find yourself in a career that is rooted in processes, you may want to begin training for a people-based profession.

________________________________________

Head ShotDr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source – Shelly Palmer

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Five Jobs Robots Will Take First

Consider what it would have been like to have been employed as a carriage driver when the automobile was invented. Or to have worked in the paper map division of Rand McNally when smartphones began telling us where to go?

These questions came to mind while I was attending the BNP Paribas Tennis tournament last week. While watching a player challenge an ‘out’ call, I asked my wife why we need a tennis umpire when every debatable decision is made by video replay! As times change, so do our jobs (and how we do them!). Today’s post is a rehash of a brilliant article by Shelley Palmer of The Palmer Group. In it, he highlights five jobs that are moving from humans to robots. And stay tuned because next week I’ll speak about the five jobs robots will take last! Enjoy!

________________________

1. Middle Management

If your main job function is taking a number from one box in Excel and putting it in another box in Excel and writing a narrative about how the number got from place to place, robots are knocking at your door. Any job where your “special and unique” knowledge of the industry is applied to divine a causal relationship between numbers in a matrix is going to be replaced first. Be ready.

2. Commodity Salespeople (Ad Sales, Supplies, etc.)

Unless you sell dreams or magic or negotiate using special perks, bribes or other valuable add-ons that have nothing to do with specifications, price and availability, start thinking about your next gig. Machines can take so much cost out of any sales process (request for proposal, quotation, order and fulfillment system), it is the fiduciary responsibility of your CEO and the board to hire robots. You’re fighting gravity … get out!

3. Report Writers, Journalists, Authors & Announcers

Writing is tough. But not report writing. Machines can be taught to read data, pattern match images or video, or analyze almost any kind of research materials and create a very readable (or announceable) writing. Text-to-speech systems are evolving so quickly and sound so realistic, I expect both play-by-play and color commentators to be put out of work relatively soon – to say nothing about the numbered days of sports or financial writers. You know that great American novel you’ve been planning to write? Start now, before the machines take a creative writing class.

4. Accountants & Bookkeepers

Data processing probably created more jobs than it eliminated, but machine learning–based accountants and bookkeepers will be so much better than their human counterparts, you’re going to want to use the machines. Robo-accounting is in its infancy, but it’s awesome at dealing with accounts payable and receivable, inventory control, auditing and several other accounting functions that humans used to be needed to do. Big Four auditing is in for a big shake-up, very soon.

5. Doctors

This may be one of the only guaranteed positive outcomes of robots’ taking human jobs. The current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to a new UN DESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) report. In practice, if everyone who ever wanted to be a doctor became one, we still would not have enough doctors.

The good news is that robots make amazing doctors, diagnosticians and surgeons. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, IBM’s Watson is teaming up with a dozen US hospitals to offer advice on the best treatments for a range of cancer, and also helping to spot early-stage skin cancers. And ultra-precise robo-surgeons are currently used for everything from knee replacement surgery to vision correction. This trend is continuing at an incredible pace. I’m not sure how robodoc bedside manner will be, but you could program a “Be warm and fuzzy” algorithm and the robodoc would act warm and fuzzy. (Maybe I can get someone to program my human doctors with a warm and fuzzy algorithm?) (Shelley Palmer)


Head Shot

Dr. Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source – Shelly Palmer

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Foresight: The Organizational Alternative to Fight or Flight

It has been said that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. While I believe this statement to be trite and overused, I am also annoyed by how true it is. Today’s post provides two examples of companies who prove this idiom contains truth you should heed!

The Bad – Failing to Plan

The story of a Nevada power company exemplifies what occurs when we fail to plan. When the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino completed installation of 26,000 new solar panels, they told their power provider (NV Energy) they were leaving the grid. NV Energy’s inability to foresee the impact of solar use (in the sunny desert!) led to them losing 7% of its revenue when Mandalay stopped using their services. And it gets even more interesting! This energy company took them to court and Mandalay ended up having to pay $87 million to NV Energy so their losses would not be passed on to existing NV Energy customers. “This is what happens when disruptive technology becomes popular: the monopolies fight back” (CBC).

The emergence of solar as a clean energy alternative is not new, especially in sunny desert regions! States have been legislating changes which require companies to use more clean energy for many years. However, many utilities have neglected to plan for these changes. As a result, this example reveals what occurs when we fail to plan.

The Good – Anticipatory Planning 

In contrast, UPS, known for their logistics solution, is branching into something unusual and new – 3D printing. While this may seem like a stretch, this decision is a result of intentional foresight work. Foresight is the ability to anticipate and respond to trends and key external forces which have the ability to disrupt the way we do business. Here is how UPS used foresight to respond to disruptive technologies in their environment:

‘Aside from its main package delivery service, UPS gets an undisclosed portion of its revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufacturers. If those customers were to switch to 3D printing their own parts, that business would face a drastic reduction. To counter that threat, UPS has chosen to get on board the 3D revolution, and is now looking to offer a service in which UPS will print out plastic parts – anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multi-faceted moving parts – around the world and deliver them’ (Freuters).

Foresight also explains why UPS is investing in companies that make drones and an upstart one-day delivery company (Frueters).

As a futurist and strategic foresight junkie my heart is warmed when I read stories about companies like UPS. In contrast, my blood begins to boil when I read examples about the electricity industry (because I pay for their ineptitude on my monthly bill). So even though the statement may be overused, failing to plan is indeed planning to fail.

If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy. Alvin Toffler

In times of rapid change, a crisis of perception – the inability to see an emerging novel reality by being locked inside obsolete assumptions – often causes strategic failure, particularly in large, well-run companies. Pierre Wack


Head Shot

Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Reuters, CBC

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/MalikBhai

Income Equality: 17 Things to Watch

A number of years ago I discovered a funny term called the GINI index. While it sounds rather technical, it is a fairly simple measurement which assesses the gap between the rich and poor. For example, if your country has a very high GINI score (like Brazil), the wealth of the country is in the hands of very few people (and we repeatedly heard this theme during the recent Summer Olympic broadcasts). In contrast, a nation like Austria has a very low GINI index. This means there is less income disparity between the wealth and the poor.

Beyond being a fascinating statistic, there is an important warning that the GINI index provides – it has proven to be a strong predictor of social and political unrest! When the GINI index is high a country is ripe for violence, rebellion and protests. The opposite is true when there is a low score. Today’s blog provides some great trend insights from Shaping Tomorrow about changes in global economic equality. Here are 15 inequality trends to keep an eye on!

“Growing wealth gaps are the biggest threat to global sustainability today and inequality can be expected to increase. Economic inequality will likely reach unprecedented levels. Here are some issues and potential solutions that we must all work to solve or suffer the potential consequences”.

  1. Total annual economic losses due to gender inequality in the labor market have averaged US$95 billion per year since 2010 in sub-Saharan Africa and could be as high as US$105 billion.
  2. Just because income inequality is rising doesn’t mean that “happiness inequality” will rise in tandem.
  3. The spike in income inequality will create social unrest.
  4. If wage differentials continue along their current trajectory, the UK will have returned to Victorian levels of income inequality by 2030.
  5. Differences in schooling and educational attainment are already the most significant determinants of income inequality in China.
  6. A glut of young workers, poverty, inequality, and urbanization-the most likely future is that informal employment will persist or grow in many or all economies.
  7. A growing share of the workforce could be left behind even as digital technologies increase overall income.
  8. AI will bring challenges in areas like inequality and employment.
  9. The absolute number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa could increase by over 50 million between 2011 and 2030 to 470 million people.
  10. The spread of robotics and intelligent computers will exacerbate social inequality across the globe.
  11. Simply expanding access to the Internet will not stem the tide of inequality it is creating.
  12. A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality.
  13. One may expect a counter-wave of right and left radicalism in the developed world.
  14. A minimum income could help reduce the impact of technological unemployment on further exacerbating inequality.
  15. The rise of digital technologies could possibly be playing a part in creating an extreme elite of the very rich.
  16. The rise of robots could depress wages.
  17. The publication of pay ratios will likely help to reduce pay inequality as a result of the outrage that ratios would produce.

Head Shot

Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: Shaping Tomorrow

Photo Source: FreeImages.com/AnatoliStyf

Infographic: The Digitization of the US Economy

The infographic below (courtesy of McKinsey) provides great insights about how technology pervades our business lives. I encourage you to specifically review the chart which reveals digitization by industry as it reveals some surprising insights. Also review the data on estimates of middle-skill jobs which are being displaced by technology.

MGI-Digitization-Infographic_web


Head Shot

Jeff Suderman is a futurist, consultant, and professor who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve culture, leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational future-readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman Email: jeff@jeffsuderman.com

Source: McKinsey

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/RonitGeller