It doesn’t matter whether you’re a doctor, a bus driver, a lawyer, an economist, an industry worker, a salesman, a trader, a teacher, an engineer or a customer service agent—your job won’t exist in a decade or two. Not in the form it exists today.
The reason is that machines are getting better and better at doing what humans do, in almost all fields. And they’re making progress quickly—faster than many would have believed. Google’s AI (artificial intelligence) based system AlphaGo recently beat the world’s best player in the world’s most complex board game—Go—ten years earlier than expected.
AlphaGo now stops playing games and will instead focus on solving world-class problems—finding new treatments for diseases, dramatically decrease energy consumption, and inventing new revolutionary materials. In other words, it’s a fairly smart machine, and it’s self-learning too!
Within all professions I mentioned initially, and in others too, there are already advanced AI based systems taking over more and more of people’s work tasks.
So now you’re asking, how will all this affect me and my job?
The bad news is that you won’t escape.
The good news, however, is that there are tons of opportunities if you develop an understanding of the ongoing change and if you build a strategy on that understanding.
To help you on the way, I will share some insights, built on my experience and focus on future, technology and digital change for individuals, organizations, and society.
- Start discussing digitalization and automation in your organization, in particular with the top management, which has to understand its importance and be ready to take action. If the top management doesn’t show this understanding, consider looking for a new job. Your company or organization will be in trouble.
- Get rid of boring work. Ask yourself which of your daily tasks you wouldn’t mind at all if a machine would do for you. Most repetitive work is boring, and the good thing is that machines are particularly skilled at repetitive tasks. Let them do it and free your time for work that you find more interesting.
- Be curious! Start investigating digital and AI-based tools in your field, and learn about them. Remember that such tools will help people to work faster and more efficiently through automation—be it lawyers, researchers, doctors, or analysts—and that those who are learning ahead of others will be winners.
- Collaborate with machines. No, machines won’t steal your job, at least not for a good while. In contrast, collaboration with machines is a winning formula. The best chess teams are humans together with computers, and that will be true for most other areas. So investigate how you can collaborate and build a team with AI-based systems, and even learn from them.
- Become better than machines. Four main areas will be the most difficult for machines to master: Creativity, ability to convince and motivate other people, empathy, and fine dexterity. Find out which of your work tasks are related to any of those areas and try to develop them further.
- Get more social. Remember that the Internet helps people connect, peer-to-peer, across the world, in contrast to all hierarchies we have built through thousands of years. This goes also for machines, but people are more social (so far). Use and develop this opportunity in your work, and reinforce your informal networks, not only in your own industry. Also—always try to share your insights and your journey with others. Together you are stronger!
- Pay attention to digital strategies. In the long run, digitalization will require a transformation of everything at work—from organization, development, and sales to the core business model. A digital strategy that is a separate part of your organization’s operations might be a good and careful start, but over time it’s not enough. Contribute to digitalization becoming a part of everything your organization does in a longer perspective—this will increase the chances that your own job can evolve.
In other words—your job will disappear, but digitalization, automation, and AI are bringing great opportunities to create a new one. And the earlier you start investigating these opportunities, the bigger the chances that you will be successful.
Note: I also do seminars and workshops on digital transformation, and if you want a deeper look at digitalization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.