Is your job spiraling into (un)planned obsolescence?

Will robotics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, the buzzwords of this decade, disrupt your job? Here are the types of situations that are at risk:

  1. Tasks that are simple and repetitious
  2. Functions that take require decisions that can easily be taught to another
  3. Jobs that involve data entry from disparate sources
  4. Tasks that provide reactive service versus proactive service
  5. Tasks primarily designed to help others “wade” through complex processes
  6. Tasks that require a lot of iterative back and forth actions
  7. Functions that are a result of limited access by the end user

If any portion, regardless of how small of a proportion it is, involves any of these types of tasks, it is just a matter of time before they will be replaced by one or more of these emerging technologies and business processes. When I look at the current roles in a financial institution and ping them off of this list of seven tasks, I find a lot of roles or portions of a position at risk.

You have options in how you respond to this “threat.”

  1. Ignore these technologies are happening 
  2. Hope it goes away or doesn’t happen until you are gone

If we look at history, we will quickly realize these two options are unacceptable. When PBX machines took over for telephone operators, the operators found themselves out of a job. When factory workers watched robots taking over some of their jobs on the assembly line, they soon found themselves out of work. When grocery cashiers watched their stores install self-service kiosks, they started to see the future of their job as cashiers. Now, in the financial services sector, we have sophisticated “ATMs” that can complete nearly every task previously required of a teller.

The following are response options are probably more realistic.

  1. Become a life-long learner. What you learned when you started your job is very likely not what you will need to know in the future. Yes, artificial intelligence and machine learning can “think” for a person, but the algorithms of machine thinking are limited to thoughts that are absent of judgment. Learn how to use your experiences and the experiences of others to improve your judgment in critical decisions.
  2. Expand your learning. Look critically at your organization to discover what roles exist that are unlikely to be “machine learned.” Know, the job you were hired for may not be the job the organization will need in the future. Do not expect this effort to be the company’s problem; you need to own your career path. To survive this technology revolution, we are experiencing will require the employee to take it upon themselves to get the training and tools necessary to sustain. Sure, investigate with the boss ways you can get the training and tools you need to learn and grow, but if there is no budget or resource, you need to own this step.

The days of a “cradle to grave” employer is long gone. A successful employee today is required to seek their path and take the initiative to pursue that path. If you find obstructions with your current employer or boss, it is up to you to explore other options. In today’s business world, we cannot allow ourselves to become victims of the technology revolution.

Remember, a career is a hero’s journey and like any hero’s journey, you will need to face threats and obstacles and build alliances along the path. But, it will be upon you to use your brains and your initiative to navigate this critical journey.

About Rich Jones

Strategic consultant and Keynote Speaker, Rich brings a deep experience in the disciplines of Strategic Planning, Marketing, Business Development, Digital Transformation, Data Utilization, Leadership Development and Cultural Alignment. A husband, father, runner, cyclist, beer drinker with a passion for life.

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