New IT technologies are transforming the job market, making some positions redundant, but at the same time creating positions that never existed before. GARY DE MENEZES, NetApp Country Manager South Africa takes a look at the future job market.
With the development of IT technologies, the job market is being transformed, across all industry sectors. Automation of manual tasks is the most obvious change, but big data, blockchains and crowd funding may be the real game changers, enabling established and new players to bypass existing infrastructures… and even replacing jobs. Start-ups and newcomers seem to be the winners, but big companies can face the challenge raised by these technological disruptions with different strategies: either behave as startup themselves, collaborate with startups and use them as value pools, or develop tools of their own that they can then integrate into their own business models… What implications do these changes have on the job market? Which jobs and skills will become outdated, and which ones will become more wanted and valued? Will the changes impact up to the very executive committees?
New IT technologies open new doors: newcomers are now able to compete with big players
Big data is leading us to a period of great restructuring in which robots will take over human jobs. The computerization of processes will make each work unit more productive. Jobs will disappear, others will be created in this transformative process: the World Economic Forum estimates that “current trends could lead to a net employment impact of more than 5.1 million jobs lost to disruptive labor market changes over the period 2015–2020” and 2 million jobs will be created in computer sciences, mathematics, engineering and related fields.
Crowdfunding and blockchains are also set to transform the market. Essentially, a blockchain is a ledger of data blocks, which is supposedly incorruptible and can record anything. They allow for safe and encrypted data or money exchanges without centralization. Similarly, crowdfunding enables to fund new projects bypassing banks and other established institutions. Put together, the two technologies create new opportunities for new, emerging companies that are not backed by big players. Incidentally, big companies will need to scrutinize their small competitors more closely, and tightly collaborate with them.
For example, the startup Colony gathers experts from around the world around specific projects, and they are remunerated according to their contribution to the project. Human resources firms are set aside from the process. Ultimately, e-commerce and social networks programs based on the technology could follow suit and overtake eBay or other internet giants, with comparable, or even higher security standards.
This is not just the future: Coin Based, operating in the Bitcoin network, is available in over thirty countries, and has exchanged 3 billion dollars’ worth of bitcoins. Crowdfunding has a great impact on the market: it has already injected 65 billion dollars in the economics and created 270,000 jobs. How can other companies face up to the challenge?
How can already existing companies adapt their business models to the transition?
The first way big companies can face the challenge lain by startups is to collaborate with them. Different collaboration programs will deliver different benefits, among which: the rejuvenation of corporate culture, the innovation within big brands that may otherwise be too bureaucratic, the solving of business problems and the expansion to new markets. To reap the benefits, medium and big companies can offer tools or co-working places to startups, set up incubator programs or co-develop products with them. These ecosystems, based on open innovation, shorten project delivery time, enhance performance and financial benefits. Companies from Cisco and GE to Coca-Cola and Shell have already developed such value pools with great effectiveness.
Another strategy is to harness the source of the economic disruption and to embrace a disruptive new technology. NASDAQ-listed companies have invested 30 million dollars in Chain, a company that wants to generalize the use of blockchains for all sorts of transactions. Telco operator Orange believes that they will ease data transfer between operators, enhancing end-user experience. Intel, IBM, JPMorgan and Barclays are among the companies investing in this technology.
The second facet of this strategy is to invest in Big Data. In the midst of a crisis induced by the arrival of Uber in France, the French Government created an application enabling users to find easily a taxi driver. This application, a platform based on Big Data, makes the process faster but does not change the business model of taxis. Virtually any sector can benefit from the application of Big Data. The oil & gas industry, for example, can monitor its production and delivery, fixing any eventual leak in record times. Banks can approve loans in seconds leveraging market data in real time. Health professionals can access more data about their patients, and compare them with other similar profiles to determine the best treatment. Enterprises now have to choose between changing with the help of new technologies and disappearing.
Managerial and organizational challenges that lie ahead for companies are huge, as they need to adapt to the changing economic environment. At the heart of addressing these challenges, there is the question of how to use, store, protect data in a fast, efficient, cost-effective manner.
Some jobs will disappear, others will emerge: the law of creative destruction
The increasing use of Big Data and blockchains will literally force companies to reinvent themselves, and to adapt their business models to emerging needs and new tools at their disposal. In the process, some jobs will become irrelevant.
Let’s take an example. The government of Honduras will use a blockchain-based software conceived by Factom to build a record of land-titles – thus making the processes more secure, less subject to corruption and faster. By doing so, notaries and other public officials will be replaced by… IT professionals. In the banking sector, the wind of change is blowing: NASDAQ operators are already testing the use of blockchains on their private market. Ultimately, brokers will no longer be needed. The 21 year-old Russian-Canadian founder of the Ethereum blockchain has an even cheekier viewpoint: he believes that job losses will mainly concern “people who earn too much money for what they do”!
That said, the World Economic Forum estimated that data analysts will become “critically important to their industry by the year 2020”, based on responses from all industries. In other words, this change will be seen across all economic sectors, public and private alike.
The increase of sheer data mass will result in companies needing to know where their data is (especially in a hybrid cloud), secure them and ensure that they are always available. Data management functions will become increasingly critical to the very way we do business. Ultimately, data managers will have their rightful seat at C-Suite level.
According to a 2016 study by Deloitte on Data Analytics, 60% of companies understand the benefits that they can earn by leveraging Big Data. 43% think that data analysis should be conducted by a dedicated entity reporting directly to the CEO. 70% also believe that it is important to consolidate internal data and data generated via SoMe. Data resulting from connectivity leads to increased customer knowledge and, in turn, to the development of new services, the ability to introduce tailored loyalty programs and to recruit new partners. Beyond customer knowledge data helps to optimize products and solutions management. Data analysts will no longer just manage activities, but will also yield information that will bring unprecedented value. Two new roles will emerge: the Chief Data Officer (CDO), in charge of the overall data strategy and the Data Scientist, who creates intelligence and value from data, helping to bridge the gap with other roles within the business. According to Glassdoor, Data Scientist is the “best job” in 2016 which means more job openings, better salaries and career opportunities. This is confirmed in Deloitte’s survey, which shows that over 70% of businesses consider it important to reinforce the role of both the Data Scientist and the CDO even if their activities are not completely mapped out and standardized yet; which opens fascinating perspectives from an overall managerial standpoint.
Prepare your cam to capture the Blood Moon
On 27 July 2018, South Africans can witness a total lunar eclipse, as the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.
Also known as a blood or red moon, a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of all lunar eclipses and presents an exciting photographic opportunity for any aspiring photographer or would-be astronomers.
“A lunar eclipse is a rare cosmic sight. For centuries these events have inspired wonder, interest and sometimes fear amongst observers. Of course, if you are lucky to be around when one occurs, you would want to capture it all on camera,” says Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive at Canon South Africa.
Canon ambassador and acclaimed landscape photographer David Noton has provided his top tips to keep in mind when photographing this occasion. In South Africa, the eclipse will be visible from about 19h14 on Friday, 27 July until 01h28 on the Saturday morning. The lunar eclipse will see the light from the sun blocked by the earth as it passes in front of the moon. The moon will turn red because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.
A partial eclipse will begin at 20h24 when the moon will start to turn red. The total eclipse begins at about 21h30 when the moon is completely red. The eclipse reaches its maximum at 22h21 when the moon is closest to the centre of the shadow.
David Noton advises:
- Download the right apps to be in-the-know
The sun’s position in the sky at any given time of day varies massively with latitude and season. That is not the case with the moon as its passage through the heavens is governed by its complex elliptical orbit of the earth. That orbit results in monthly, rather than seasonal variations, as the moon moves through its lunar cycle. The result is big differences in the timing of its appearance and its trajectory through the sky. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on weight tables to consult the behaviour of the moon, we can simply download an app on to our phone. The Photographer’s Ephemeris is useful for giving moonrise and moonset times, bearings and phases; while the Photopills app gives comprehensive information on the position of the moon in our sky. Armed with these two apps, I’m planning to shoot the Blood Moon rising in Dorset, England. I’m aiming to capture the moon within the first fifteen minutes of moonrise so I can catch it low in the sky and juxtapose it against an object on the horizon line for scale – this could be as simple as a tree on a hill.
- Invest in a lens with optimal zoom
On the 27th July, one of the key challenges we’ll face is shooting the moon large in the frame so we can see every crater on the asteroid pockmarked surface. It’s a task normally reserved for astronomers with super powerful telescopes, but if you’ve got a long telephoto lens on a full frame DSLR with around 600 mm of focal length, it can be done, depending on the composition. I will be using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with an EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Ext. 1.4 x lens.
- Use a tripod to capture the intimate details
As you frame up your shot, one thing will become immediately apparent; lunar tracking is incredibly challenging as the moon moves through the sky surprisingly quickly. As you’ll be using a long lens for this shoot, it’s important to invest in a sturdy tripod to help capture the best possible image. Although it will be tempting to take the shot by hand, it’s important to remember that your subject is over 384,000km away from you and even with a high shutter speed, the slightest of movements will become exaggerated.
- Integrate the moon into your landscape
Whilst images of the moon large in the frame can be beautifully detailed, they are essentially astronomical in their appeal. Personally, I’m far more drawn to using the lunar allure as an element in my landscapes, or using the moonlight as a light source. The latter is difficult, as the amount of light the moon reflects is tiny, whilst the lunar surface is so bright by comparison. Up to now, night photography meant long, long exposures but with cameras such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV now capable of astonishing low light performance, a whole new nocturnal world of opportunities has been opened to photographers.
- Master the shutter speed for your subject
The most evocative and genuine use of the moon in landscape portraits results from situations when the light on the moon balances with the twilight in the surrounding sky. Such images have a subtle appeal, mood and believability. By definition, any scene incorporating a medium or wide-angle view is going to render the moon as a tiny pin prick of light, but its presence will still be felt. Our eyes naturally gravitate to it, however insignificant it may seem. Of course, the issue of shutter speed is always there; too slow an exposure and all we’ll see is an unsightly lunar streak, even with a wide-angle lens.
On a clear night, mastering the shutter speed of your camera is integral to capturing the moon – exposing at 1/250 sec @ f8 ISO 100 (depending on focal length) is what you’ll need to stop the motion from blurring and if you are to get the technique right, with the high quality of cameras such as the Canon EOS 5DS R, you might even be able to see the twelve cameras that were left up there by NASA in the 60’s!
How Africa can embrace AI
Currently, no African country is among the top 10 countries expected to benefit most from AI and automation. But, the continent has the potential to catch up with the rest of world if we act fast, says ZOAIB HOOSEN, Microsoft Managing Director.
To play catch up, we must take advantage of our best and most powerful resource – our human capital. According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), more than 60 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 25.
These are the people who are poised to create a future where humans and AI can work together for the good of society. In fact, the most recent WEF Global Shapers survey found that almost 80 percent of youth believe technology like AI is creating jobs rather than destroying them.
Staying ahead of the trends to stay employed
AI developments are expected to impact existing jobs, as AI can replicate certain activities at greater speed and scale. In some areas, AI could learn faster than humans, if not yet as deeply.
According to Gartner, while AI will improve the productivity of many jobs and create millions more new positions, it could impact many others. The simpler and less creative the job, the earlier, a bot for example, could replace it.
It’s important to stay ahead of the trends and find opportunities to expand our knowledge and skills while learning how to work more closely and symbiotically with technology.
Another global study by Accenture, found that the adoption of AI will create several new job categories requiring important and yet surprising skills. These include trainers, who are tasked with teaching AI systems how to perform; explainers, who bridge the gap between technologist and business leader; and sustainers, who ensure that AI systems are operating as designed.
It’s clear that successfully integrating human intelligence with AI, so they co-exist in a two-way learning relationship, will become more critical than ever.
Combining STEM with the arts
Young people have a leg up on those already in the working world because they can easily develop the necessary skills for these new roles. It’s therefore essential that our education system constantly evolves to equip youth with the right skills and way of thinking to be successful in jobs that may not even exist yet.
As the division of tasks between man and machine changes, we must re-evaluate the type of knowledge and skills imparted to future generations.
For example, technical skills will be required to design and implement AI systems, but interpersonal skills, creativity and emotional intelligence will also become crucial in giving humans an advantage over machines.
“At one level, AI will require that even more people specialise in digital skills and data science. But skilling-up for an AI-powered world involves more than science, technology, engineering and math. As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.” This is according to Microsoft president, Brad Smith, and EVP of AI and research, Harry Shum, who recently authored the book “The Future Computed”, which primarily deals with AI and its role in society.
Interestingly, institutions like Stanford University are already implementing this forward-thinking approach. The university offers a programme called CS+X, which integrates its computer science degree with humanities degrees, resulting in a Bachelor of Arts and Science qualification.
Revisiting laws and regulation
For this type of evolution to happen, the onus is on policy makers to revisit current laws and even bring in new regulations. Policy makers need to identify the groups most at risk of losing their jobs and create strategies to reintegrate them into the economy.
Simultaneously, though AI could be hugely beneficial in areas such as curbing poor access to healthcare and improving diagnoses for example, physicians may avoid using this technology for fear of malpractice. To avoid this, we need regulation that closes the gap between the pace of technological change and that of regulatory response. It will also become essential to develop a code of ethics for this new ecosystem.
Preparing for the future
With the recent convergence of a transformative set of technologies, economies are entering a period in which AI has the potential overcome physical limitations and open up new sources of value and growth.
To avoid missing out on this opportunity, policy makers and business leaders must prepare for, and work toward, a future with AI. We must do so not with the idea that AI is simply another productivity enhancer. Rather, we must see AI as the tool that can transform our thinking about how growth is created.
It comes down to a choice of our people and economies being part of the technological disruption, or being left behind.