Much like a revolution, the ongoing technological revolution will have casualties.
We’ve already seen some of these in the form of traditional print media facing pressure from digital alternatives, film photography has become a niche hobby and CDs are all but dead in the mainstream.
The question many of us have is what the other industries, jobs and even sectors will fall victim to the unwavering march of technology?
This morning during a virtual event hosted by Huawei South Africa, managing director at World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck, laid out his thoughts on what sectors and jobs we may not see when the next decade ticks over.
The good news is that there opportunities to be found in this revolution, but before that, let’s address the forthcoming casualties.
Bookkeepers are becoming increasingly irrelevant thanks to digital solutions which can be automated to complete the tasks a bookkeeper might’ve in the past.
“The bookkeeper we see today is not only a dying breed, it’s a dead breed. Thanks to the advent of things like Xero Accounting. If you go into the Xero App Marketplace and search for ‘accounts’ you find numerous options that instantly replace the bookkeeper,” explains Goldstuck.
Much of this is being driven by cloud-based business modelling which allows an entrepreneur to deliver a product or service instantly such as those on display by Xero.
By the end of 2021, bookkeeping could be about as dead as knocker-uppers were when the alarm clock came into being.
Next on the chopping block (albeit not until at least 2025) is banking.
The banking sector has been in dire need of a shake up for ages now and while we’ve seen some innovation, the entry of digital banks to the market is causing a bit of a shake up.
Digital banks benefit from not having to have physical locations and as such they can cut costs where traditional banks may not be able to. The end result is that customers enjoy benefits like zero or as-close-as-makes-no-difference to zero fees.
While the sector isn’t booming, within this decade we can see customers shifting to digital banks once product offerings from those firms reach product and service parity with traditional banking.
Gimme fuel, with no fire, it’s EVs that I desire
By 2030, petrol stations will be dead. Okay, perhaps dead is extreme but, as electric vehicles become more popular, accessible and affordable, fossil fuel filling stations may become as rare as charging stations are now.
“Already the writing is on the wall, it’s just that we’re not reading that writing,” says Goldstuck.
According to analysis from Deloitte, by 2030, 50 percent of news vehicles purchased in China will be electric. By comparison, the rest of the world will see 30 – 33 percent of new cars being purchase being electric.
“Of course we’ll still have petrol stations, but they’re going to become fewer and further between much like the bank branch were it’s going to become more and more difficult to find a bank branch,” Goldstuck adds.
But this assumes that you even own a car in 2030.
This brings us to one of the more bizarre suggestions Goldstuck mentioned – parking lots at malls and venues.
“Parking lots will be used as staging sites from which you order your car to come and fetch you,” says the MD.
Data from Allied Market Research cited by Goldstuck reports that by 2026, the global autonomous vehicle market will reach $557 billion with a compound annual growth rate of 39.5 percent.
Parking lots however may still stick around until 2040 because we suspect folks will cling to the idea of owning a vehicle for a bit longer beyond 2030.
In terms of jobs the US Bureau of Labour Statistics reports the following drops in the number of new jobs by 2029. These jobs are:
- Wired telecommunications carriers – 100 percent decline
- Newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers – 99 percent decline
- Printing and related support activities – 82 percent decline
- Travel arrangement and reservation services – 66 percent decline
- Cement and concrete product manufacturing – 57 percent
Some good news
Where jobs are dying there is also opportunity.
When it comes to sectors, those that are driving the so-called fourth industrial revolution are:
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
- Robotic process automation
- Cloud-based business modelling, launching and operation
- Instant connectivity via 5G and beyond
“These five technologies will truly transform the way businesses operate and the way society interacts with business,” says the World Wide Worx MD.
That point about how society interacts with business is interesting because it leads into a question about what skills may come into demand in the future. While the assumption is that the focus will be on those that understand, can create and can harness control of these technologies, there is another side to this.
That side is humanity.
The pandemic has highlighted just how important human interaction and care is. It should come as no surprise then that as we progress toward a digital society, personalised care and attention becomes important in the global economy.
As an example, by 2029, individual and family services will need 3.6 million people in the US to meet demand. By comparison, computer systems design and related services will need 2.7 million people to meet demand.
Empathy and “being human” are going to emerge as vital skills and that makes sense when we’re talking about ethics of AI and solving problems humans face. This is precisely why diversity is so important in technology because if we’re moving to a space where AI can create AI, we need to insure that things like racist cropping doesn’t happen.
Make no mistake though, digital skills are still important, as are analytical and problem solving skills.
The tone of the next decade is going to be ground breaking but it may also be earth shattering for some.
The fact of the matter is that we can’t predict the future but it bodes well that our humanity will play a vital role in how we progress.
[Image – CC BY 2.0 Tim Green]