Technology advancement has made life easy for people in many ways. Through automation and robotics technology, we can now achieve in minutes, what will typically take hours in the not so distant past. The sharing economy that we have all embraced means you can hitch a ride and get some stranger to drive you home with just a few clicks on your phone. Stranger still is the fact that we are now comfortable putting our homes online and letting people we don’t know come to live in our private residence, as long as they pay us in return. News now travels faster than the speed of light, as events happening in one corner of the world can be seen live instantaneously across the continent, thanks to the social media platform’s live features.
Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, data analysis, and many of the new technologies are disrupting existing businesses, making their survival uncertain. For example, the ease of online shopping has resulted in the influx of customers from brick and mortar stores to eCommerce websites, thereby causing job losses in the process. Technological innovations are great, but they have left some unintended consequences that have created winners and losers in the economy. Such unintended consequences include, but not limited to:
Banking innovation that made it possible to deposit checks on mobile phones, make interbank transactions, and mobile payment has resulted in lower demands for bank tellers, consequently reducing the need to have Tellers in banks.
Amazon has created a humongous platform where you can buy anything from clothing to groceries. This has led to the demise of companies like Sears, Toy R Us, and Payless, and it’s causing serious pains to others like Macy’s and JC Penney.
Airbnb has made it cheaper to book a space for short-term vacations, which makes it more difficult for hotels to maintain profitability.
Travel websites, such as Travelocity, Trivago, & Priceline, are eliminating the need for human travel agents.
LinkedIn is making it tougher for job recruiters to enjoy an uninterrupted career.
Uber, and Lyft, are driving the traditional taxi companies out of business.
Traditional school systems are being threatened with the rise of online education and on-demand course platforms like Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare, etc.
Driverless cars, Drone technology, 3D Printing, Virtual & Augmented reality, Blockchain technology, Internet of Things will continue to change our ways of life as we know it. Rather than fighting technological advancement, I believe the best approach is to embrace and leverage technology for the greater good. A collaborative and innovative approach that will involve public-private partnerships and help more people build a sustainable career and provide guaranteed income will be the future of our economy.
Some of the components of the future economy will include:
- Universal basic income (UBI): This idea sounds crazy now, but for a sustainable future, every government must find a way to provide social safety nets that will help its citizens. This was one of the major policies push by Andrew Yard, the 2019 Democratic Presidential candidate. He proposed the “Freedom Dividend” a monthly $1,000 income to every American adult. The UBI will most likely become a reality in the nearest future, and it will help cushion the effects of job interactions for working adults. For now, unemployment benefits should be reformed to make it more accessible and adequate to support people that experience job loss.
- Freelancing: More people should embrace freelancing websites such as Fiverr and Upwork to sell their skills and, in return, make some side income. The days of job security are long gone. Anyone can have their job interrupted, not only because of what they did or did not do, but mostly because of external factors that they could not control. Having other ways to generate income will provide some limited income in case of a job loss.
- Multi-skilled employee: An employee that is ready to future-proof his career must also be prepared to wear multiple hats. I have a friend that studied Computer science in college; she has experience in network computing. She went for further study to obtain certification in health informatics. She also has a PMP certification. She has multiple skills that cut across various industry. She has worked in the Healthcare industry before, and she recently transitioned to the oil industry, her expertise also makes her suitable to work in the technology industry. The future belongs to those that will be able to build multiple skills that will enable them to work across various industries.
- Entrepreneurship: As more employees observed that they no longer can afford to rely on their employers to provide a stable and uninterrupted career, many people will seek to become entrepreneurs. The government needs to do its part by encouraging entrepreneurship and providing a conducive environment that will make it easier to set up a business and reward business owners for the risks they take to start up their businesses.
Modern technology is helping organizations in different industries, but it is also causing job interactions. Employees, business organizations, and the government needs a collaborative approach to deal with the unintended consequences of technological advancement in order to create a prosperous and thriving future economy.