The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerization?
When you see a discussion about the future of work, then talk about jobs being lost to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and computerization are never far away.
However, as we explored earlier this year, it is easy to find jobs that will remain even when elements of computerization are involved. What will change is the specific ways we deploy human skills within our businesses. So, while computerization will draw a curtain on some jobs, it will enhance our ability to complete particular tasks in most cases.
What are the jobs of the future?
In many respects, the jobs of the future will not be much different from those that exist today. Of course, new and different tech platforms will help create new roles and specialisms. Still, we should not expect too many existing roles to disappear entirely.
The list of 10 jobs of the future below focuses on jobs that may be heavily influenced by automation or involve working with automation in some way.
- Data detective. Businesses are increasingly working with Big Data. These processes are powered by numerous sources and often driven by automated feeds. As their use and the volume of usable data grows, it will become vital to know what we are looking at and how to drill down into what we see. While we can use AI to identify and automate the reporting of trends, there will be a vital role for data detectives to dig deeper and analyze AI findings to help drive strategic decision-making within businesses.
- AI analyst/specialist. The idea that we will all integrate AI into our automated workflows and let the AI get on with it is somewhat misguided. We will still need to work with AI platforms, and in some cases, direct them around what we want them to analyze and learn. As such, the role of an AI analyst will become vital to ensuring our AI tools are as effective as any other member of the team.
- Software developer is a role often held up as one that we will lose to automation eventually. However, we will still have software developers in 2025, 2030, and beyond, but they will work differently to now. For example, automation already exists around things like QA checking code. In addition, we might also see the introduction of automation that helps optimize software for user experience, for example, and enables the developer to harness this input to generate a better platform.
- Systems analyst is a fantastic example of a role that will evolve thanks to automation and computerization. Analysts will be able to find solutions quicker thanks to the available data and play a similar function to data detectives in identifying strategic opportunities for improvement. Systems analysts might even be working with your automated workflows and integrated tech stack to make it better!
- Accountant. While you can automate vast swathes of your financial processes, you will still need someone to approve things and ensure figures are correct. Automation will see accountants become more effective as they can focus on analysis rather than sending invoices or doing trivial tasks.
- Lawyer. While legal tech continues to transform the legal industry, it is a near-perfect example of how automating processes can help unleash human potential. Automation means lawyers can spend more time practicing law and less time looking through books or databases.
- Finance Manager & CFO. Not only will these roles change thanks to computerization, but the people filling them may find their future workplace both challenging and dramatically different to today. Finance Managers and CFOs will find themselves working across a broader swathe of businesses, as finance processes not only automate but integrate with everything from sales to marketing.
- Information security analyst. Data protection has been one of the hottest topics across the legal and tech spaces in recent years. While modern information security processes are automated to ensure businesses have 24/7 protection against cybercrime, it remains necessary to have a person who can interpret data and suggest solutions to prevent problems proactively.
- HR manager. "HR and tech do not mix" is the typical response to introducing automation into HR processes, but it is entirely the wrong one. Using HR automation will give HR managers and their teams the time back to focus on people. Instead of kidding themselves they are working with people by filling in forms and manually entering data into outdated systems.
- Marketing manager. We can automate nearly all the heavy lifting done by marketing these days, creating personalized campaigns, and targeting specific audiences. However, we still need people to plan campaigns, analyze data, and understand how integrations with CRMs and associated financial processes, such as contract creation, are working.
What skills will safeguard your career?
It depends on the role you find yourself in.
From an office automation perspective, it may pay to learn at least some basic coding, although you can impress your boss by highlighting the benefits of using no-code development platforms!
In reality, the most significant skill is likely to be the ability to be adaptive and change within your working environment. People who instantly think automation is coming to take their jobs are likely miles away from the truth. They are also probably not the type of people you want to work with if you want to grow an innovative business! There is also likely to be an increased demand for people with "T shaped" skill sets, meaning they specialize in a specific discipline related to their niche but have top-line knowledge across the whole spectrum.
Whatever your role, understand what a computer will never be able to do within that, and get brilliant at delivering those things while adding value elsewhere.
How susceptible are jobs to computerization?
Putting my neck on the line here, but I would suggest that most jobs themselves are not susceptible to computerization.
Sure, computerization will increasingly become a part of how we work. As such, a person who fails to recognize this and adapt to it may find they are susceptible to losing their job. Still, the role itself is unlikely to disappear. You could automate all the low-value tasks in your business and discover that is all someone was good for, after all!
Similarly and on a larger scale, businesses themselves are susceptible if they fail to move with the times. Remember, using automation and computerization delivers benefits to your customers. If you have competitors using automation to give a better customer experience than you, you will quickly start to struggle.
Why are there still so many jobs? And what we can learn from history
In short, because we have spent too long as a global society worrying about what computerization could take away rather than the benefits of embracing it.
As far back as the 1950s, using elements of automation and computerization in the legal industry has not seen jobs disappear or lawyers become an endangered species. Instead, people with great jobs can actually do their jobs and give their clients value instead of spending their hourly rate doing low-value tasks that a computer can do in seconds.
The future of employment
The future of employment involves computerization and automation to an extent that will only grow in the foreseeable future. However, we should embrace the opportunities that this evolution in employment and workplaces delivers, rather than worrying about replacing us!
Automation is an opportunity to learn new skills and embrace a new way of working, whether you work in one of the roles we explored above or elsewhere.