How to Create a Successful Career in the Face of Relentless Job Automation

Technology futurist CK Kerley visited Vanderbilt University this week and delivered a presentation called, The Tech Megatrends: The Tech Trends Reshaping Our Lives, Our Work – And Our World.

CK, who specializes in understanding the rise of emerging markets and tech, shared five tech trends and how they are changing everything.

I invite you to invest a few minutes to read about these trends, consider a business reality that is impacting all of us, and discover how you can succeed – better yet thrive – in the face of relentless automation.

Five Tech Mega Trends

Here are the five big trends that CK shared.

Trend 1: The “Outernet”

CK explains that we are, “quickly taking the smart out of smartphones and putting it into everything.”

Our daily lives will change dramatically as items go from dumb to smart. These tools will function, communicate, and interact with us – and each other – in new and different ways. Smart devices like Nest thermostats, security cameras, and smoke alarms are just the beginning.

Trend 2: Data Driven Enlightenment

We are downing in data, as everything in the physical world – including ourselves – is generating information at a relentless clip. Fortunately, the ability to crunch data and make sense of it is leaping forward as well. As a result, technology is allowing us to learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Your Apple Watch measures your heartbeat, helps you count calories, and reminds you to breath and stand. It seems cutting edge now, but it will be a relic before you know it.

Trend 3: Artificial Intelligence

AI has been around for decades, but we are just starting to see it functioning in our everyday lives.

Siri, Alexa, Pandora, Netflix, and countless other AI-driven solutions are interacting with us daily, learning our behaviors and preferences, and serving up things that we didn’t even know we wanted – until we see them.

Trend 4: CoBots

CK explains that collaboration bots (aka CoBots) will connect us, explore for us, protect us, entertain us, and save us.

“Someday people will wonder why we ever had firefighters rush into a building to save someone when a robot could do it.”

To us, firefighters play a critical role in today’s world (and they do), but future generations will have a hard time believing that people used to do that job.

Trend 5: Next Gen Web – Web 3.0

Where Web 2.0 brought us social networking and media sharing, Web 3.0 is emerging with blockchain, holograms, and talking technologies. The distributive aspects of blockchain, and its associated security benefits, will likely change how we handle a myriad of security issues. Meanwhile other advances will move us from burying our heads in smartphone screens to talking with ease to technology and using holograms to interface with everything.

A Business Reality Impacting All of Us

It may have taken 40 years to put most New York City elevator operators out of work, but many current day jobs will be history in less than two decades.

Let’s face it:

  • Computers can crunch numbers better than you can.
  • Robots can lift more weight and operate with greater precision than any of us.
  • Technology doesn’t take coffee breaks, go home after eight hours on the job, or require paid vacation. It just keeps going.

This morning, I read in my news feed that, “PepsiCo has begun letting go of an unspecified number of employees amid plans to “relentlessly” automate.” (@LinkedInDailyRundown)

The article explains that PepsiCo will incur $2.5 billion in restructuring costs, mostly fueled by severance and other associated employ costs as the it closes plants and invests in automation.

Here’s the harsh reality. The automobile replaced the horse drawn carriage; and, a robot will replace roles that require repetitive tasks be they physical or mental.

How to SUCCEED in the Face of Constant Tech Changes

Technology does many things well, but we (the humans) still have a few tricks up our sleeves. Inspired by CK’s presentation, I created the acrostic SUCCEED to help you remember where the opportunities lie.

Our ability to create strategy and dream up new options is limitless. We posses a curiosity that allows us to ask questions and uncover new areas that we had yet to consider. Our nature – even for introverts like me – allows us collaborate and create with one another. We can show empathy and bring enthusiasm to work in ways no robot can. And, our decision-making abilities are not easily replicated as we not only make decisions from a logical perspective, but we can infuse the process with historical, contextual, and gut-level components that seem uniquely human.

It’s in these areas that you must hone your skills. It’s also in these areas that you will likely find work to be more fulfilling and engaging.

A data entry person in the accounting department may be a job of the past, but an accounting analyst who can provide business insights and deliver sound advice to leadership will be in high demand.

Some 2,000 years ago, Horace wrote the phrase “carpe diem” (seize the day). His words still ring true.

My advice. The glass isn’t half full or half empty – it’s 100% full.

We are experiencing a unique moment in human history. We have more choices than our ancestors could possibly imagine. Like never before, we can choose how we live, work, and accomplish what matters most to us.

Technology may redefine what you do, but it doesn’t define who you are. Work on your skills. Make yourself invaluable. Build what you want. Seize the day!


Photo by Rock’n Roll Monkey on Unsplash