Are you still relevant in 2017?

When the Luddites of the early 19th century first started campaigning against the mechanisation of weaving, their fears were probably fueled more by their overstressed imagination, rather than streamlined statistics.

But a recent study done by the Economist Intelligence Unit suggests that the Luddites were right all along. Recent developments in technology signals that a world run by robots and AIs are not so farfetched anymore. I should know this, I work for a tech startup with an obsessive focus on removing the friction which exists in finding and hiring a service provider by automating much of the back and forth, the negotiating, and scheduling between users and providers.

So what does that mean? It’s only still the first quarter of 2017 and you’re already telling me that my skills are rendered obsolete? While it doesn’t mean that we are all doomed for mass unemployment tomorrow, its useful to know how you can spare yourself from becoming absolutely irrelevant.

Up-skill Yourself

If you’re someone like me, with zero engineering or coding skills, I think the surest way to keep yourself trending this year (and the following years) is to not only work in tandem with technology, but to assist them.

A good number of Millennials are at that stage in their lives in which they’re turning to technology to make life easier. It’s all about a positive experience, and more often than not, Millennials indicated they’d much rather interact with technology to obtain a product or service. Bots will need specialists to write their dialogue and keep them up to date. Aha perhaps that’s my calling – writing banter for conversational computer systems. After all users still care about the artwork – the story!

Maybe I’ll go out on a whim and say algorithms and humans can work in tandem. A sure way to make sure you don’t become outdated is to train yourself in extracting insights for (and from) a world that’s slowly becoming paralysed in excessive data and information.

Build the Habit of Learning

Our working lives are so lengthy and so fast-changing that simply cramming learning during our time at school is not enough. We must be able to acquire new skills throughout our careers. From my experience, the difference between good entrepreneurs and great entrepreneurs is that the former’s strengths is narrowly vocational, while the latter focuses on metacognition – learning the art of learning to constantly pick up new skills in life.

As automation pushes people from routine 9-5 jobs into non-routine ones, particularly those that require cognitive and social skills, technological progress will cause a shift in the nature of jobs available and the skills they require.

Ignore the Status Quo

The on-demand economy is blurring the lines between full-time jobs and part-time gigs. Entrepreneurship now permeates every level of our careers and it’s possible for professionals to do both at once. Take ServisHero for instance, the platform has allowed thousands of local service professionals in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand to increase their earning potential by providing a new avenue for business. In other words, it’s increasing the levels of entrepreneurship that wasn’t before possible, especially for low-income workers.

This increased emphasis on entrepreneurship is changing the workplace entirely. Businesses now have to respect the fact that their employees are exposed to entrepreneurship and may want to try it out for themselves. The full effects of this mindset shift are yet to be seen, but something that’s already building momentum. This isn’t to say you need to go out and launch an e-commerce marketplace, but you should want to adapt your business model to the changing climate around you – technologically speaking or not. Customers are demanding flexibility, personalisation, and responsiveness. At the very least, you must be able to satisfy these desires.

Changes you make now could have a far-reaching impact on your business down the road. Don’t resist change. Instead, recognise this change as an opportunity to grow your business and connect with new customers.

Photo by @reallynattu

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  1. Pingback: How to Stay Relevant in 2018 – Sonam Pelden

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