Category Archives: Strategy

Digital Economy Series: “In a fully digital economy will you still be needed to work in a factory or sit at an office-desk?”

vehicles on road between high rise buildings
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

Work. Whether we sit in an office, walk in a manufacturing facility, or perform some other task, those of us who work are living examples basic economic theory. We are all playing our part in turning an input into an output. We could be making sales calls to increase demand for an output, driving a truck to deliver raw materials, or even developing software to make the process better. Whether our organisation produces goods or services, we are all being paid to perform our part somewhere along the value chain.

The economy of tomorrow, the time when teenagers of today have teenage grandchildren, is more than likely to be a fully digital economy. For we can see evidence of this transition already. The value chain of decades ago was all about atoms, all about making and using physical goods. Today it is a mix of atoms and bits, it is an economy where value is created in the digital sphere as well as the physical sphere. Tomorrow the value chain may well be dominated by that which is digital.

Consider primary industries. Aren’t mines and farms becoming more automated? What about the secondary industries of manufacturing and construction, isn’t automation taking hold there as well? Even for higher value sectors such as finance, health and professional services we are witnessing inroads being made by either automated or intelligence-laden digital processes.

Thus it can be argued that there will be less employment in industry sectors that create value out of atoms. Indeed, even though the value of these sectors is growing across the OECD, related employment is largely stagnant.

But where is value created in the digital economy and what part do workers play in it? Value in the digital economy is created in the manufacture of ICT hardware, in the creation of software and services that use software, and in the collecting, processing and disseminating of data and information.

Regarding the manufacture of ICT hardware, it is not too hard to see full automation in production and logistics. But in the research, development and design phases we humans will still be critical for success.

Regarding the creation of software and software-based services, is it not too far fetched to contemplate software writing software? Where designers set the input and output requirements for new software or a new service, and the computer creates and tests the complete set of algorithms and interfaces.

Finally, regarding the management of data and information. Apart from employees performing regulatory oversight, it is possible to imagine the only other scenario in which human involvement is necessary is where faulty data collection sensors need to be replaced.

So, in this fully digital economy will you still be needed to work in a factory or sit at a desk in the office?

The answer is a qualified yes. While there are many factors that should be taken into consideration the foundational truth is that an economy is there to serve the society. For we grow things, we produce things, we teach things, we regulate things and so on for our individual and collective benefit.

Even though you may accept the propositions that 1. we are moving to an economy that is dominated by bits and, 2. just like production involving atoms has become more automated so too will bits-based production. We will still be human. Thus, even though what we value and how we pay for it will more than likely change, there will still be economic production to serve the needs of the population.

So yes, the factory will still be around to produce physical goods, but the types of work that are open to humans are those that are less automated. And yes, the office-desk job will still be around, but it too will involve non-automated people and thinking skills.

Therefore, even though what will be available and how it is produced will be different from today, basic economic theory will still apply. No matter the industry sector, in a fully digital economy people will still have roles as productive links somewhere in the value chain.

 


For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, review my IT Strategy blog, subscribe to my YouTube channel, or buy my ‘Jobs. Future. You.’ workbook.

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People Skills Are In

You might have noticed in the news, on social media, or in your talking with various people that the job market is changing.

Blog Post - People Skills

You might have heard that a lot of jobs are going to disappear. Particularly routine manual and routine cognitive jobs.

However, it is not all doom and gloom, for one of skills that will experience increasing demand is the skill of dealing with people.

Think of sales managers, supervisors, project managers, team leaders and so on. Where the skills of directing, controlling and planning are central to success. These are the management and supervisory jobs. And with these jobs the critical component of success is the ability to manage and lead people.

One example of this is the replacing of checkout staff with self-serve machines at major grocery stores. While the routine checkout jobs are cut back, staff with people skills are needed all the more. For these self-service machine supervisors are having to deal with more complexity (they are watching over multiple machines) and having more complex interactions with people (ie, item lookups, ensuring all products are scanned, ensuring queues aren’t increasing, etc).

In this changing job market, whilst some “standard” jobs are being lost, ones with a different mix of skills will be in demand.

For the student in your life, it is advisable to maintain a clear-eyed consideration of the changing job opportunities.

 

For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, review my IT Strategy blog, subscribe to my YouTube channel, or buy my ‘Jobs. Future. You.’ workbook.

Preparing for the change that you know is coming.

One of the constants in life, as the 5th Century BC Greek philosopher Heroclitus opined, is change. While this paraphrase of his “no man can step into the same river twice” maxim was true in his day, it is ever more relevant in 2017.

Reflect on some of the change that we have witnessed over the last few decades: the ubiquity of social media, the power of computing that we carry around with us and the cost-effectiveness of DNA testing. We’ve seen the rise of self checkouts and driverless cars. It seems we can make anything we like with 3D printers.

All of these improvements and new ways of doing things. These inventions and innovations that are impacting organisations of all types.

Whether this impact is felt in the way staff approach their job, or the speed at which new competitors arise, or the way technology can bring improvements to your business. Your organisation will continue to be affected by what is going on around you.

So, how do you prepare for what may lie ahead? How do you ensure long term success.

How do you see the risks and opportunities that lie over the horizon.

And how do you prepare yourself to either mitigate these risks or to exploit the opportunities?

In two words – use strategic thinking.

Rather than using standard strategic planning or business planning you need to dig deeper to see what is really happening.

Rather than using environmental scanning or SWOT analysis to see what is happening around you, you need to ask questions about why the change is happening.

And its called strategic thinking for a reason, because it involves thinking!

Consider say cloud computing. All of your competitors and others that you know are shifting to using these platforms. Why?

A simple answer would be that it is cheaper. It is more efficient to just buy the software to run the business rather than all the computers and staff that are needed to run the software.

But dig deeper to find a more profound answer. Ask yourself some questions about the drivers of change.

And these “drivers of change” questions about, in this case, cloud computing, may well lead to the following:

  • Is it because cloud computing can be more responsive to helping businesses respond to competitive pressures?
  • Are competitive pressures mounting because products can be brought to market quicker?
  • Can products be brought to market quicker because of more efficient market research mechanisms?

Taking that last question about efficient market feedback, what risks and opportunities are there for you?

Do you have personnel risks – that you don’t have the right people to implement the market feedback you get?

Do you have systems risks – that you don’t have the right processes in place to gather timely market feedback?

Do you have R&D risks- that you don’t have a culture that embraces innovation and bringing to market new products?

Strategic thinking is the new game in town.

Through strategic thinking you can discover, and prepare for, the risks and opportunities that are over the horizon.

 

For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or review my IT Strategy blog, or subscribe to my YouTube channel.