By Abhijit Bhaduri
Imagine trying to outrun a 100 meter wall of water rushing towards you at 950 kilometers per hour. That is what a tsunami feels like. The tsunami of 2004 killed at least 230,000 people in 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean.
We are at that point in history where businesses are experiencing a simultaneous disruption in every process within the organization. Lifelong employment is giving way to the “gig economy” where talent is on tap. Mobile technology is making every employee hyper-connected and creating a global marketplace for talent. The employer brand is no longer owned by the employer. Expertise is getting commoditized. There are more women entering the workplace. Five generations are working together… maybe I should say, five generations of humans are working together. And we are all learning to rethink work, workplaces, the role of employers and employees in a world of radical openness that technology has been rapidly transforming over the last decade.
Technology has always impacted work. The Industrial Revolution made us transition to the new manufacturing processes from 1760 and lasted for almost eight decades. It impacted work, created a new workforce, changed social norms and paved the way for changes that have continued till date. The impact that steam and electricity had pales in comparison to the sweeping changes that the digital tsunami has unleashed.
The convergence of tech ie web, bots, sensors, AI, analytics, VR, AR now allows us to rethink every process while keeping the employee at the center. If managing the change unleashed by one variable is tough, imagine how complex it will be to rethink every single variable and do it at the pace of a jet plane.
The digital tsunami is impacting jobs like never before. Artificial Intelligence and robotics together will continue to evolve and impact. Autonomous vehicles will not only make drivers redundant but may demolish the auto insurance industry and lower the demand for doctors who we turn to save lives affected by motor accidents. Manufacturing will see robots replace several lower-skilled manufacturing jobs. Wall Street will see robo advisers managing the wealth of clients. Every profession from journalism to surgery is going to see routine jobs being done by robots because they are efficient and are not subject to pressure from unions and need no holidays and healthcare benefits.
Tech will create new jobs
Technology will create new opportunities and new roles. YouTube has created a parallel universe of YouTube stars like the 25-year-old PewDie Pie who earned $12 million last year. His YouTube channel has 46 million subscribers – that is more than what many movie stars can claim as their fan base. These YouTube stars have experimented with the new media and crafted a new career – one that has no precedence. Amazon recently advertised 27 jobs that involved managing drones. Did you ever think that managing drones could be a career option when you were growing up?
The rise of machine learning is creating new opportunities for Cognitive computing engineers and machine learning specialists. The internet of things will give rise to architects and user experience designers. The regular learning and development jobs will give rise to virtual reality content creators.
Managing any change means having to unlearn. Successful leaders find it hard to learn. Successful organizations get chained by their past success. Many organizations fail precisely because their leaders do what they are really good at. They continue to do what made them stay ahead for decades. The companies they lead fail to reinvent themselves in the process, and get replaced by newer competitors unburdened by the legacy of success. The digital tsunami is going to disrupt every organization and every individual in equal measure. The future belongs to those who can learn faster than others.