There is plenty being written about the bright future digital technologies are purportedly bringing to the business world. But when it comes to jobs and careers, the conversation gets gloomy. Expect plenty of jobs to be automated or supplanted by artificial intelligence, they tell us — from truck drivers to journalists to doctors and even lawyers.
The rise of digital has ramifications for every job, and the transition to a digital economy will carry its share of pain. At the same time, embracing the forces of change can also open up new opportunities. It’s a matter of knowing where to look, and how to embrace the changes. For those working in companies with inspired and forward-thinking management, there will be a lot of support on the journey. If your company’s management is less than inspired or mired in calcified thinking, it may be time to start thinking more entrepreneurially.
Say goodbye to the 9-to-5 pigeonholed job forever. Digital is remaking the workforce, and in companies with enlightened and forward-thinking management, it presents new opportunities for career growth. Here are changes digital is bringing to today’s job roles:
1) You will need new skills, and will be exposed to opportunities for new skills. Digital technologies demand a range of skills, from cloud architecture to social media. Many occupations, such as scientists, now require some level of programming skills. The good news is that digital makes it easier to upgrades skills. There is a wealth of online education and training sites, from Khan Academy to Code Academy to Massive Open Online Courses featuring professors from leading universities to help get up to speed with changing career needs.
2) You will have more occasions for entrepreneurial and innovation thinking. Again, there is justified concern that automation is replacing jobs faster than it creates new ones. Many tasks are being automated, but machines will never be able to identify the opportunities that will help a business grow or change market perceptions. People will always be the organizing force behind technology — bringing together technology resources and directing those resources to solve business problems and opportunities. Even within large companies — look at what the folks at GE are doing with analytics, and applying new ways to look at old problems.
3) You will see new job descriptions — and perhaps see the change in your own. There are job roles being created that didn’t even exist five years ago. Data scientist is one example. Robotic process automation analyst is another. At the same time, there are new additions being seen in existing job roles. For example, a database administrator may add Database as a Service analyst to his or her description. A marketing manager may add data storyteller to his or her role.
4) You will get to know adjacent roles. The rise of digital doesn’t just mean changes in job descriptions, it also means a blurring of roles. As you explore and learn digital competency in your own field, you will be developing solutions that touch upon other roles. For example, the roles of software developers and designers, once part of two distinct disciplines, are increasingly overlapping. Developers are increasingly grasping the importance of user experience (UX) in their work, and software designers are becoming more intimately involved in the coding and testing of software.
5) You will get to know adjacent industries. Digital approaches are disrupting many industries, and traditional players are recognizing that they must embrace new business models to succeed. For example, retailers such as WalMart have digital labs to help open up new vistas in e-commerce. If you’re currently in the financial services or insurance industry, you may find yourself in insurtech or fintech next year — either as part of your existing employer, or with a tech-driven player. If you’re in television, you may find yourself in digital media. And the list goes on. Digital is blurring the lines between industries, and the activities of one are bleeding into adjacent sectors.
What is happening is there is a lot of discussion taking place about the wondrous effects digital technologies are having on organizations in general, but not enough discussion on how individuals can marshal these new forces in a positive way to enhance their own career prospects. Let’s start exploring the new possibilities.