How Technology Is Creating a New World of Work
Innovations in technology are almost as old as humans themselves. 10,000 years ago, agriculture created the conditions that allowed civilization, and the industrial revolution shattered the old methods of living and working. The internet and associated information technology may end up being the most life-changing of them all, and anyone wanting to stay relevant in the job market needs to have at least basic knowledge of how to use connected technology to remain competitive.
Position Yourself for Success in a Digital Economy
One key trend is that more work is transitioning from physical labor to creative, knowledge-based production. Employment is also changing from a set schedule in a fixed location to a different mind-set and dispersed workers. With the proliferation of smart devices, the separation between work and personal life has been obscured or even eliminated for many white-collar workers.
Skilled, knowledge-based workers often balance a busy personal life with their work. New technologies are creating openings for those who might find traditional work requirements unacceptable, such as new mothers. The internet has opened a new horizon for creative, task-based production, enabling major increases in efficiency and productivity.
Cloud-Based Technologies Are Driving Today’s Changes
Cloud computing is a modern take on an old idea. When computers were massive and expensive machines, large organizations arranged for time-sharing of resources to get the most efficient use of their room-sized devices. The cloud takes that a step further: employees can remotely log in, often from any connected spot in the world, and utilize the software and resources of the company.
Cloud-based computing also allows a pay-as-you-go model, meaning companies pay for only what they use. This creates a near-ideal opportunity for small operations to scale up as needed while meeting unpredictable demand. However, this does open a potential problem: expenses can skyrocket with demand, so managers should stay alert for long-term increases in usage and adjust pricing plans as needed.
Embrace Change Management
Technology evolves rapidly these days. Fortunately, most connected technologies are inexpensive and designed to be very user-friendly. Companies with a flexible approach and adaptable corporate culture tend to excel at managing change.
Successfully navigating an evolving world means a top-down strategy; leadership must signal that the change is sanctioned, reliable and secure. Explaining what problems the new technology will fix, along with clear instructions for use, create the right atmosphere for employees to be comfortable with changes.
Technology Is Also Transforming Manufacturing
Emerging tech is transforming virtually all industries. Microsoft estimates that perhaps 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled in the U.S. in the next decade because the jobs are transitioning from unskilled to skilled labor. These shortages are increasing the offshoring trend to areas where laborers are willing to learn new skills.
At least 4 out of 5 moderately-skilled jobs require digital literacy as a prerequisite. Professionals are also becoming affected; most experts recommend “reinventing” yourself approximately every 5 years to stay competitive. Having basic information communication technology skills – as little as being comfortable with widely-available smart devices – should be considered as essential as being able to read and write for all but the most unskilled jobs.
The Human Cloud
Creative, administrative and managerial jobs are increasingly being shifted to the human cloud, which consists of mainly contract workers paid by task or project and available on-demand via the internet. This shift is substantial, with $3 – $4 billion being spent on human cloud-based workers.
The internet revolution is bringing back worker ownership of their production; all one needs is a connected device, a brain and a marketable skillset. The human cloud can make the problems of skills shortages and a lack of skilled migrant workers disappear – managers get exactly the skills they need when they need them. The change has created a world of limitless start-ups as talented entrepreneurs have access to the full range of skills without needing massive capital or a large employee base.