Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that his personal challenge for 2016 was to develop an artificial intelligence technology that will eliminate the need to manually do simple things like answering the door, controlling lights and room temperature, and even checking up on his daughter! If he can do that, what other tasks — or even jobs — could these advancements in technology affect?
As a solutions consultant helping companies migrate to more efficient business systems for HR, I occasionally hear about concerns from payroll or HR teams that have to do with technology eventually replacing them. This is not the case at all — technology may replace certain jobs but they can't replace people! A payroll management system could replace the job of having to encode attendance data, but you will still need someone to be in charge of managing the system. With new data and analytics available within a payroll management system, you could maximize these by training or hiring a payroll data analyst.
Here's why tech actually leads to more jobs, more meaningful occupations, and opportunities for better quality of work and life.
Technology means more, not less jobs
While it is true that many jobs have become obsolete with the rise of automation tools and machines, this does not necessarily mean that advancements in tech have resulted in less jobs for people. In fact, studies show that technology results in MORE jobs. (READ: Technology and people: the great job-creating machine)
Run a Google search on "jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago" and you'll find that most of them are related to technology. Social media managers, data miners, growth hackers, app designers - all of these new jobs and more came into existence roughly within the past decade.
In HR, positions and job descriptions have been evolving too. New roles in HR are coming into play, such as HR Technology Manager, Payroll Data Analyst, Digital Recruitment Manager, in response to the upward trend of human resources strategies involving technology tools such as payroll management software, online recruitment platforms, and employee data systems.
Technology isn't the enemy - it's stagnation
The idea that sticking to old processes is easier and cheaper is a fatal misconception. Just take a look at the stories of Kodak, Blockbuster, and Borders - all companies that once ruled their industries (which have all changed drastically since then), now turned into case studies of businesses that failed because they didn't evolve in time.
To stay competitive in a world where technology is progressing exponentially every day, businesses must adapt by utilizing new processes and new tools. That also means creating new job titles to support these changes, and evolving training and hiring methods to make sure people can maximize the tools and systems that will power the business.
Likewise, people are challenged to learn new skills and gain experience in fields that may not be taught in school. With tech related jobs like "data scientist" and "growth hacker" becoming more popular, it's clear that people need to match their qualifications to stay relevant - and there was never a time when this was easier! Apart from Google and YouTube, where you can find almost any how-to guide or video, more and more online learning resources have become available such as Treehouse, Codecademy (for learning how to code), Coursera and EdX (for Massive Online Open Courses or MOOCs, where you can take up an entire subject online), SHRM.org (for Strategic HR Management certifications), and thousands of websites covering more specialized topics.
Robots can replace jobs but they can't replace humans
Technology highlights the human capability by stretching its limits. It empowers an individual to do so much more than has ever been possible.
Declining occupations are a sign that technology is becoming more powerful, but it does not mean that people are becoming less important. Rather, this means that jobs are simply evolving to become more meaningful and more impactful. In this way, people are forced to expand their abilities, to explore the depth of what we can accomplish now that technology can support us with many other tasks and functions.
Knowing that it's inevitable, technology is not something to fight or fear. Instead, see it as a world of possibilities that you, as a human being, can use to constantly learn new things, work and live better, and make a more significant impact in the world.