GetSmarter’s chief marketing officer Ryan O’Mahoney examines the workplace opportunities that digital disruption offers.
Robotic automation could result in the net loss of more than 5-million jobs across 15 developed nations by 2020. That’s the prediction in a recent report from the World Economic Forum.
Artificial intelligence, blockchain and big data are just three of the disruptive technologies contributing to these scary statistics and causing working professionals to fear whether their jobs will evolve in the future, or if they will cease to exist.
But is this disruption really a threat to the working professional, or is it an opportunity?
The emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – defined as the current and developing environment in which disruptive technologies and trends are changing the way we live and work – may have shifted organisations, individuals and society toward an incrementally on-demand world, rife with change, but it’s also led to the rise of a new professional. This is someone who has the mindset of agility; who evolves with the times; is not afraid of change; and combats the effects of this disruption with the desire to re-skill, and re-skill again.
Instead of worrying about which careers have already been replaced by technology; or wondering if yours is stable, examine the disruptive technologies themselves, and identify the opportunities that exist for your own transformative career growth.

Big data
Big data placed first in a survey by Nimbus Ninety, as one of the most disruptive technologies that will have the biggest influence by 2018. It should come as no surprise then that as it continues to entrench itself within business, the need for skilled data workers is increasing. From making well-informed, accurate business decisions, to safeguarding business information through the use of cybersecurity – big data is a skill in huge demand across all industries.
In the words of Jeanne Harris, senior executive at Accenture Institute for High Performance, “…data is useless without the skill to analyse it.” In fact, Teradata’s 2017 Data and Analytics Trend Report revealed nearly half of global businesses are facing a scarcity of employees with data skills.

Artificial intelligence
Simply typing in the words “artificial intelligence” into Google renders dramatic headlines such as “Is AI killing jobs?” – it comes as no surprise that this technology has got the human population worried.
With the advent of self-driving cars, robots who can do physical labour and machines that solve problems quicker than humans, AI has already started to infiltrate into the travel, transport, financial services, healthcare, mining and manufacturing industries, to name a few.
But aside from the fact that robots cannot yet replace jobs which require empathy, communication skills and close personal interaction, a report from the McKinsey Global Institute concludes less than 5% of occupations are likely to be completely wiped out by automation. Instead, new jobs will be created.
People with tech skills will be needed across all industries to operate the automated systems and as old job roles fade away, new ones will emerge in their place. Already positions such as Data Scientist and AI programmer are becoming increasingly sought-after.

With its ability to digitise, decentralise, secure and incentivise the validation of transactions, blockchain plays a key role in improving inefficient business processes, in almost every industry. However, the billions of dollars earned from moving transactions to blockchains or distributed ledger systems will also likely be a result of a cutback in salaries that are currently paid to workers.
But it seems there’s still huge potential for employment, albeit, different to what previously existed. At the DTCC’s Fintech Symposium experts discussed how the number of jobs created by the introduction of blockchain are exceeding the number of professionals qualified to fill them. In fact, CEO of DTCC, Mike Bodson, described it as “imperative” to nurture blockchain jobs, along with those for machine intelligence, cloud computing and financial technology positions.
The financial services sector is one of the biggest sectors benefitting from blockchain. Some of the most successful professionals will be those who have the ability to identify opportunities for disruption, and are equipped with the skills to not only launch new fintech ventures but also harness blockchain technology to build better financial services firms.

Re-skill and re-skill again
Whatever fears or uncertainties you may have around the stability of your career in this disruptive time, the truth is these technologies could pose both a threat or an opportunity depending on how you choose to approach them.
The working professional who wins will be the one who prioritises skills development and continued education in order to face this disruption head on.
Accelerated online study programs, such as the Fintech Programme offered by the University of Oxford, or the Big Data and Social Analytics online short course from the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, make it possible to study the skills needed to tackle the new career landscape.
Whether it be competencies in AI programming; coding; IT; analytics; computer science; and engineering; or being able to lead the integration of AI into your organisation; the ability to draft and strategise fintech innovations; or simply having the knowledge to implement these technologies into any industry; step into the tech-dominated workplace as a new type of professional, determined to answer this question: :To what extent does your career need to evolve in order to embrace this disruption, and what reskilling do you need to do to get there?”