Everybody is talking about Artificial Intelligence. Some are excited, some are scared, but what is really happening with AI and the Future of Work?
With the marketplace evolving at a rapid rate, access to digital technology is re-evaluating the need for certain jobs.
The truth is that technology has been evolving for centuries to meet changing human needs, but it’s the rate at which certain skills are becoming redundant in an ever-competitive marketplace that is of concern from an economic perspective. While the traditional concept of a job might become obsolete in itself, here are some of the professions that are becoming less prominent as roles in the workplace continue to shift:
1. Clerical Work
In a traditional office or business setup, there are people assigned to certain roles such as answering the phone, managing inventory, compiling sales data or typing out documents. While there may always be a need for someone to be available to talk to customers on request, advances in software applications means that often several clerical tasks can be integrated into a single software platform. Software such as Salesforce for example combines clerical tasks such as quoting and managing other administrative tasks with the use of additional applications, which means that theoretically one person could perform the tasks of an entire small-business office.
2. Call Centre Agents
The growth of text-based applications such as Whatsapp, Skype and even online chat means that often there is no need to talk to someone directly when making a sales transaction. While it might still be necessary on occasion to talk to someone directly to resolve a problem, the thought of being put on hold with a ridiculous tone playing in your ear is making text-based troubleshooting much more feasible and convenient. Being able to just send a message of complaint or request for help, and receive a prompt response eliminates the need for teams of people to be available to take your call.
3. Social Media Managers
According to a TIME infographic, there has been an 89% increase in jobs that mention “social media” in the description but not the job title. While five years ago there may have been a rush to hire people to manage social media platforms on behalf of businesses, it’s interesting to notice how there has been a shift in the need for these kinds of roles, obviously influenced by changes in search algorithms and the functioning of social media platforms such as Facebook. While five years ago it was easy to share content and engage, these kinds of platforms are now more geared towards paid advertising than ever before.
While people with niche skills, insights and creativity will always be needed to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions, the need for a physical salesperson to conduct a sales transaction is becoming less important with the ease of shopping and researching online. We might never be able to replace the tactile experience of shopping, purchasing online means that even using a checkout counter to pay for goods is becoming unnecessary, with an increase in self-service. The important shift in this case is more towards customer service, and having the technology to respond to problems quickly and efficiently.
5. Booking Agents
When things go wrong with a hotel or flight booking, it can be worth it to have dealt with an agent personally who can sort out the problem. However, with the way we shop and research online, the need for any kind of booking agent seems redundant, except in the case of customer service as discussed above. It’s common knowledge that travel agents are no longer as popular as they used to be, with online booking sites so easy to use, with the proviso that transactions are secure and that ultimately there is a human being you can contact in the event that anything does go wrong.