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)

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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:

Source – Shelly Palmer

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The Future of Sports – 19 Trends

Today’s blog provides several fascinating insights about the future of sports developed by the Shaping Tomorrow organization. You will find that these upcoming changes are rooted in several key drivers which include shifting demographics (Gen Y), technology invading markets which are not traditionally linked to tech (like sports) as well significant shifts in the economic priority of consumers. So, without further adieu, here they are.

  1. Broadcasts of virtual reality (VR) sports could become the norm.
  2. An estimated 27% of U.S public high schools will not be offering any sports programs by 2020.
  3. E-skin displays could become a direct competition or a replacement for sport watches.
  4. eSports revenues could surpass $1 billion as early as 2018. One Activision exec says it’s a potential Olympic sport.
  5. In the U.S there are more eSports fans than baseball fans and it’s predicted it will exceed any other sport in US.
  6. Millennials are projected to spend about half what all adults in the US and Canada spend ($50) on live sporting events.
  7. Adding sensors to sports equipment will continue to revolutionize the way athletes train and compete.
  8. Body sensor shipments are expected to increase from 2.7 million in 2015 to 68.0 million units annually by 2021.
  9. Parents will increasingly want sports equipment that helps protect their children from injury.
  10. Whoop is the first scientifically-grounded system designed for continuous wear that provides athletes with data to reduce injuries and predict peak performance.
  11. The activewear industry is expected to add $83 billion in sales globally by 2020.
  12. Demand will grow for products and services that help prevent or rehabilitate injuries in growing bodies.
  13. Sports-science insiders have predicted the imminent arrival of gene doping in sports.
  14. Annual smart clothing shipments will grow from 968,000 units in 2015 to 24.8 million units in 2021.
  15. By 2020, global shipments of VR headsets are expected to hit 64.8 million per year.
  16. A new app developed by Scottish start-up Sansible Wearables will let players and coaches track the intensity of a collision and the effect it has on the body.
  17. Similarly, a mouthguard with motion sensors can analyse concussion risks after a player contact.
  18. Rugby could find itself alongside American football as a sport fast losing support among a new generation of parents and young families.
  19. Intelligent robots will publish sports commentaries.

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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:

Source: Shaping Tomorrow
Photo Credit: Bob Smith


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.


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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:

Source: McKinsey

Photo Credit:




E-Residency: How Estonia is Advancing Globalization

Estonia is a tiny nation in the European Baltic region. By airplane, it is about two hours north of Germany. With a population of 1.3 million people, it is the smallest member of the European Union (EU). However, despite its size, it is one of the fastest growing economies in the EU. And their progressive growth may be further fueled by a 2014 decision to offer e-Residency to you and me!

“The Republic of Estonia is the first country to offer e-Residency — a transnational digital identity available to anyone in the world interested in administering a location-independent business online.”

Furthermore, their promotional materials tell us that e-residents can:

    • Establish and administer a company online
    • Conduct all the banking online, e.g. make electronic bank transfers
    • Have access to international payment service providers
    • Digitally sign documents (e.g. annual reports, contracts) within the company as well as with external partners
    • Declare taxes online

At the heart of this landmark decision to offer e-residency is Estonia’s ability to effectively leverage technology. As a result of their free Wi-Fi, immense fiber-optic infrastructure and secure data exchange system, Estonians can electronically sign almost every document. In fact, it is purported that they are so integrated that citizens can file their taxes in less than five minutes. This competitive advantage provides Estonians with secure, seamless transactions and the ability to move information quickly. It also opens the door for people around the world to make use of this same system. For example, I can establish a business in Estonia as an e-citizen because I do not need to physically be present. Estonia has realized that digital information is borderless and built an immigration system that embraces it. Furthermore, they are hoping this strategy will stimulate the economy and broaden their tax base.

A few weeks ago I blogged about two counter-trends – globalization and tribalism (See Going Tribal: When Globalization Fails). In summary, society either seems to be polarizing to one of two extremes; we embrace the complex and messy aspects of globalization, or, we look inward and protect ourselves from outside forces. Estonia has clearly placed their betting chips on globalization. Their press release materials conclude by stating, “With e-Residency, you can become part of the digital society revolution taking place in our dynamic Northern European country. You can become an e-Estonian!

Perhaps you and I will have the opportunity to become an Estonian e-Citizen next!

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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:

Source: Estonian e-Residency

Photo Credit: Gadling

Improving Your Working Relationship With Your Robot Assistant

Imagine that your boss has sent you to an all-day workshop at the local Hilton. His last minute invitation meant you don’t even know the workshop topic. As the speaker begins, you are surprised to see the presentation is about “How to improve your relationship with your work robots”.

Does this sound far-fetched? It likely isn’t – at least if we look to the near future. A recent interview with technology market leaders reminded us that an emerging training priority is “the need for leaders to prepare their people to coexist and collaborate with machines in the decade ahead” (Boston Consulting Group). We have slowly been getting used to machines filling our soft drink cups at McDonalds, replacing our favorite bank teller with an app and self-scanning our passports at US Customs (see The Move to CX). This is just the beginning of a shift towards an increasingly technological work day. During the industrial age we had to learn to co-exist with machines. In the years ahead, we will have to learn to learn to co-exist with the technology which is invading our workplaces. This means we will have to stop complaining about our robots and the digital assistants that are assigned to make us more productive. Instead, we will have to learn to thrive alongside them.

In addition to working more effectively with technology, here are 10 other skills that the experts think we need to be developing in order to succeed in our careers in 2020.

Top 10 Skills

History teaches us that nothing stays the same. The pace of change is staggering. It also means that we will have to adapt our skills to fit an ever-changing world. What skills would you add to this list?


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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:

Image Credit: FastCompany


Why Complicated Work is Becoming a Commodity

Last month a momentous technological feat quietly occurred. A computer beat the world’s best Go player in a best-of-five match. In fact, the Google developed computer program called AlphaGo won three straight games before the human opponent achieved a win. The computer then won the final game of the match to earn a decisive 4-1 victory.

At its core, Go is a game of complex mathematical choices. Some consider it Chess on steroids. The opportunities on a simple 19 X 19 board boggle the average mind. However, much like a computer beating the world-best Garry Kasparaov at chess in 1996, the AlphaGo victory indicates that we have arrived at a new point in history!

I cannot help but apply this historical moment to the future of our employability. As the title suggests, much of our work is becoming something that can be done by machines. Computers now weld our cars (as robots), vacuum our homes (thank you Roomba) and autopilot our planes as we sip champagne. As more and more of our work becomes automated, some are raising concerns about the future security of our jobs! So should you be worried that computers or robots will take your job? Maybe! After all, history teaches us that they already have. Therefore, the secret is to determine which jobs computers can’t do – and I think I know which ones!

Last summer I wrote a short blog about the difference between complicated and complex. Although these two words may appear to be synonyms at first glance, they are unique as we consider the future or work. Here are the differences between these two terms:

Complicated – Something with many interconnecting parts. Intricate. Examples: Imagine a rigorous math problem on a white board. The ability of Big Data to assess your on-line browsing habits in order to predict which products to advertise on your web browser also fits into this category. These things are complicated.

Complex – A system of interconnected parts that constantly change. Fluid. Examples – If an ocean beach lifeguard leaves their tower for 30 minutes, they may come back to a very different scenario. The ability to understand the needs of a crying baby is also a complex matter.

Last week I posted a list of skills that experts believe the workforce will need by 2020. It includes things like creativity, negotiation and emotional intelligence (see Improving Your Work Relationship With Your Robot Assistant). In short, this list was full of complex skills. Technology has demonstrated an increasing ability to deal with complicated – like the game of Go. However, technology has not mastered the complex! Therefore, wise employees will equip themselves with skills that allow them to deliver complex solutions. Things like interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and mega-management are complex abilities that will equip employees with the skills they need to succeed.

You will be employable in the future. This is because you are a human and you were designed to do complex things. However, to ensure your future success, you must equip yourself with complex skills. Those who only focus on complicated will at some point, find themselves beaten by the latest version of AlphaGo!


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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:

Photo Credit: Wired Magazine

The Digital Natives are Eating My Norms!

Eight years ago we bought our first flat-screen television. About a month after this purchase my eight year old boldly told me that we needed another one downstairs. I regressed into classic father-mode and said, “Are you kidding me! When I was your age, I remember getting our first color TV”. He looked at me blankly and asked, “What color was it?”

I’m getting to the age where I’m starting to acknowledge that I’m different. I have children who don’t comprehend black-and-white television. Last night’s 16 year old American Idol performer sang a classic Bryan Adams song that she “had never heard before”. My daughter recently pointed out a nondescript young lady buying a hot dog at an Orange County fair and whispered, “she has over a million subscribers on her You-Tube channel.”

As Bob Dylan was crooned, “the times, they are a changing…”.

Much of this shift is rooted in the rapid technological change we have undergone in the past 30 years. The terms digital natives and digital immigrants are used to describe the mindsets differences such as the ones noted above. Digital natives are the generation of people Digital Immigrant Storyborn during or after the rise of digital technologies Conversely, digital immigrants are people born before the advent of digital technology (DeGraff). I am clearly an immigrant with native children who believe ubiquitous WiFi is a birthright!

As a result of our different histories, digital natives and immigrants have  different cultural norms. The environments they were raised in provide each with a different worldview. At times this causes us to clash. However, we can each benefit by learning from the advantages that each style brings.

Degraff outlines some helpful things that digital natives can teach digital immigrants:

  • To collaborate across boundaries, with a variety of people.
  • To make a place in life for values.
  • To build solutions that are horizontal.

In turn, digital immigrants can teach digital natives:

  • To achieve goals quickly.
  • To use focused resources in building things to scale.
  • To revitalize or repurpose existing institutions.

No matter which side of this spectrum you are on, you need to learn how to deal with others who think differently than you do. I believe that we can respond to these differences with one of the following strategies:

  1. We resist and pretend we don’t need to change.
  2. We duck ask the other person to change.
  3. We change.

Personally, I am a strong advocate of number 3 despite the fact that it means I have to pay attention to things like Nintendo, the Coachella festival and those quirky hipsters.

I recently read an educator who was speaking about the future of on-line learning. He noted, “I can hardly wait until we have on-line classes courses taught by millennials”. He understands that digital natives are going to transform our world in positive ways. Hopefully, both digital natives and immigrants will continue to transform the way we work. Are you willing to change?

Head ShotJeff Suderman is a thought leader and consultant who works in the field of organizational development. He partners with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and their Future-Readiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman


Chris Mark (Feb. 18, 2015). Design for Millennials.

Jeff DeGraff (June 16, 2014). Digital natives vs. digital immigrants.


BYOD & BYOA: Welcome to the age of hypermobility

Trend Watch

A recent article from the team at Join.Me highlights a trend that has been quietly growing in our organizations – Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). This is not surprising given 90% of American adults own cell phones, 68% own smart phones and 42% own tablets (Pew Research). As a result, notes that “most organizations have adopted BYOD in some form, and an increasing portion of them actually have developed and implemented formal BYOD policies to ensure that the use of consumer-class notebooks, netbooks, tablets and smartphones is secure and productive”.

The logical next phase of this is also underway. Bring Your Own App (BYOA) is receiving support not only from employees, but also, increasingly, from their companies. To assess the impact of BYOA, Join.Me surveyed over 1,2oo respondents at small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The following charts clearly illustrate this growing trend:

BYOA Usage


BYOA Future




























Trend Strength: high

Trend Maturity: growing (40%)

Organizational Implications: Increase in employee productivity, increase in IT security management services, undetermined organizational cost (decrease or increase).

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Bring Your Own Application: The New Reality for the Mobile Workforce. Join.Me by LogMeIn. Retrieved October 15 from

Pew Research Internet Project. Mobile technology fact sheet. Retrieved Oct. 15 from