Data is changing the world around you. You see it. You feel it. You worry about it. The headlines scream, "The Robots are Coming and They're Taking our Jobs," and you wonder, "Am I next?" But you don't have to worry if you take the time to understand what is happening, why it is happening, and why it doesn't have to happen to you.
There is nothing new about technology changing the way that we do our work. From the earliest days of humanity, every generation has adapted tools to make daily life more efficient. The first industrial revolution in the mid-18th century accelerated the pace of that change, and it has continued to increase ever since.
- At the start of the second industrial revolution, 2 out of 3 people in the U.S. were farmers, today only 2 out of 100 people in the U.S. work on farms.
- In the third industrial revolution, between 1972 and 2010, the number of people employed in manufacturing fell 35%.
In January 2016, leading economists from the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicted that we are entering the 4th Industrial Revolution: The Cyber‐Physical Age.
In January 2016, leading economists from the WEF predicted that we are entering the 4th Industrial Revolution: The Cyber Physical Age. In this new era, our physical world will integrate with the digital world, through the proliferation of sensors and devices connecting everyone and everything. The impact will be felt by every industry across the globe, and the resulting disruption is already beginning to transform how we do business, how we govern and how we live our daily lives.
With billions of people and things connected by sensors and devices, and unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, the possibilities for innovation are endless. Advances in artificial intelligence are visible everywhere - from the Roombas that clean our homes, to the algorithms that suggest the movies we watch, to self-driving cars and drones delivering packages. Artificial intelligence is just one aspect of the explosion in technological breakthroughs including robotics, the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.
"Sure," you're thinking, "these changes are really exciting and there are obviously a lot of opportunities for businesses to capitalize on them, but what do they mean to me?"
It's understandable to be nervous about the changes that the 4th Industrial Revolution will bring to our life and work. Let's take a few minutes to explore what the growth of automation might mean to you.
In 2013, a report titled "The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?" examined current occupations to determine how susceptible they are to automation. The results estimated that 47% of total U.S. employment may be at risk.
Meet Rowena. Rowena comes from a long line of bookkeepers and accountants; crunching numbers has been a way of life in Rowena's family for generations. But now her job is in danger of being automated out of existence.
According to the website "Will Robots Take My Job?" there is a 98% probability that jobs like Rowena's will be automated.
Some aspects of a job are easier to automate than others. It all depends on the tasks. Tasks that involve creativity, negotiation, and emotional support are less susceptible to automation than those that require physical dexterity or working in challenging conditions.
Rowena could take her experience and provide a service that robots can't. For example, her years of working with ledgers and spreadsheets have taught her quite a lot about business and finance. She could study a company’s performance over time, combine that with research on emerging trends, and apply predictive software to help evaluate potential future opportunities for revenue growth, cost reduction, or customer retention.
Will your job be gone within the next decade? Don't panic!
The increasing pace of automation comes with increasing needs. The amount of data being produced is growing faster than it can be analyzed. According to Forbes, less than one half of one percent (0.5%) of all data collected today is ever analyzed and used. Imagine the value hidden in the remaining 99.5%.
The solution to the problem is to apply data science tactics by developing a workforce with the skills to derive insights and action from data.
Now you're thinking, "I don't know anything about data. How will this help me?" Here's the good news -- you already possess some of the necessary skills.
A blend of skills are required to be successful in the new world order, and organizations are going to be seeking employees with those skills. If you want to be enhanced by the emerging technology and not replaced by it, you will want to determine your capabilities.
As scary as it seems, many of us will face this very situation in the all too near future. We have a couple of ways in which we can respond to this new knowledge. We can run around with our hair on fire awaiting doom and gloom, or we can start planning today how we will stay one step ahead of the robots.
The key is to position yourself to be enhanced by technology, not replaced by it.
We all have a choice regarding how to respond to the rapid changes that are currently unfolding. We can freeze in panic or we can begin to prepare for what is inevitable. Robots can currently only replace the tasks that are repeatable and reproducible. Tasks that require creativity and critical thinking are far from being automated.
The 4th Industrial Revolution is disrupting almost every industry in every country. How will you adapt?