The Challenge Of The 21st Century - How To Earn A Living?

<p style="text-align: justify;">We are living in a VUCA world. Volatile - Uncertain - Complex - Ambiguous. Because the velocity of change is changing faster with time.<br />&nbsp;<br />In the days, say 30 years ago, what you wanted to do in life used to have an answer - which is usually faced by every human before they decide. Then they get on with it, work till retirement and lead a comfortable life.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />While the living standards have improved today, conveniences have improved, choices are plenty, entertainment is plentiful, life expectancy has improved, and medical care has improved, the challenge is what to do. How to make a living? It is bothering many people of all age groups.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">How did we get here?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Let's quickly retrace it.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Evolution of Industries</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Factors of production for goods and services have always posed a challenge for the evolving industries during the 50s - 60s - 70s. It used to be Men/Material/ Money/Methods. Then we saw that materials and methods were improving due to good academic involvement in fundamental research supported by industries. </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">When inventions gave rise to innovation opportunities, investors put the money on the table. New industries and jobs were created. Men were trained in methods (Technologies), and women were slowly added to the workforce as gender equality and rights started to be recognized. Women are equally good or better suited in many functions. Productivity gains through automation and more innovative methods focusing on lean, mean flexible facility management.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Computerization, data processing, and information management evolved to dominate much of corporate spending to gain a sustainable competitive advantage.<br />&nbsp;<br />Global footprints became the norm for continuous growth, and multi-facility management across the global marketplace gave rise to supply chain management.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />Information Technology has become the nerve system of any business and competitive force. Advancements in computer-aided design enabled companies to cut concepts to market rapid product development time. Time to market is shrinking from concept to real product or service launch.<br />&nbsp;<br />Time to market drastically changes, and innovation picks up speed with new materials, 3D modeling, testing, and rapid prototyping typing. With flexible manufacturing enabling product variety for global volume, simultaneous product launches around the globe became the norm.<br />&nbsp;<br />While information systems-related technologies enabled new companies to compete globally, the software started creeping into every sphere of managing a product or service company. Human touchpoints were important and a focus of process excellence for companies to gain competitive advantage. </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Customer service process improvements enabled by automation and ease of tracking service levels raised customer satisfaction. The competition intensified as Asian and European players went global, giving them a hard time for American industries. &nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In this interconnected world where customers can be reached and served globally by any company, the business landscape began shifting under the feet of slow-moving companies. With growth, compute power and storage need skyrocketing while the prices of compute power and storage devices kept falling. With big data and data-driven analytics, suddenly, data modeling became the key skill for gaining intelligence on market trends, niches, and customer preferences.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />When the pace of innovation picked up around 2008, the acceleration of change became a little too much for even a highly educated workforce in the middle layer of management.<br />&nbsp;<br />The entry skill to the job market is constantly changing, and education systems are too slow to adapt and deliver employable resources. For those who are already employed, the challenges are becoming a nightmare. Those who thought they were done with learning are finding themselves dead in the water. Those who keep changing their skills according to the wave they face are surviving but becoming tired of coping with frequent change. Skill redundancy is faster than the skill mastering cycle.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />We can see the shift from Farm to Factory to Knowledge happen in about 200 years. But the pace at which the factory-to-knowledge shift has been happening in the last 20 years displaces many average-skill employees who will need retraining. The situation is currently worsened by AI and robotics eating away jobs that once were performed by humans throughout the history of the world. </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The problem is the shelf life of a skill - which is rapidly decreasing. We must constantly sift, sort, select the skills to acquire, and keep moving from one to another rather quickly. Life has become like &ldquo;surfing&rdquo;. The waves are coming at us rapidly, and to balance and stay afloat is like surfing in a rough sea of high wind and huge waves coming at us. To survive, you have to keep managing every wave crossing your path.<br />&nbsp;<br />When a work study is undertaken, jobs are divided into granular levels. With the advancement of technology, more and more elements of the job are automated, and the job is reduced to low-skill, less-paying jobs or fully automated and eliminated. Steps that can be automated were eliminated from humans and automated, thus increasing productivity.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Now with narrow AI solutions, even previously classified high-skill work is reduced to medium-skill jobs. This is hollowing out the middle management equally after the early stage of automation, addressing only physical labor. More importantly, productivity is increased with Assisted intelligent systems, and more could be achieved by one worker or executive leading to shrinkage of the workforce due to high automation. </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">On the flip side, new jobs are created for these new skills of identifying, designing and automating work elements in a process or process redesign using technology. Thus, the job description is changing, and companies must readjust the workforce skill set periodically. This readjustment leads to firing, hiring younger workforce, training them on new methods and technology, or retraining old employees for new technology-driven organizational needs.<br />&nbsp;<br />Survival has become the paramount focus and creates enormous stress even for the so-called &ldquo;highly educated&rdquo;.</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">As the bottom level of jobs is getting automated or eliminated by technology, even the middle levels are vanishing quickly. There are no more highly paid middle-level jobs. Hollowing of the middle has suddenly stared at graduates who thought they had a job and could survive. This survival scares thrown at us by rapid technological advancement is real. Lifelong learning has become the need of the hour.<br />&nbsp;<br />What is the way forward?</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In the past, tears Life&rsquo;s philosophy used to be&nbsp;<br />Love to Live<br />Live to Learn<br />Learn to Love, and this now has become&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />Love to LEARN<br />LEARN to Live<br />Live to Love<br />&nbsp;<br />Welcome to the beginning of the learning era. Those who want to survive and succeed must put themselves in the habit of rapid continuous contextual learning. Luckily the tools are available, and the resources are available. </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The key questions are:&nbsp;<br />Are you motivated?&nbsp;<br />How quickly can you move from plan to action?&nbsp;<br />Can you avoid being a languorous person?&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />We work at it constantly to sustain a meaningful deep human relationship. We must keep learning new skills to survive and maintain a decent living. Balancing life with so many demands on us is stressful, but we need to manage it smartly - each individual's circumstances may vary in our own way. Nobody can advise or guide anybody. Everybody is clueless as to what's coming. There is a certain amount of excitement in uncertainty as anything is possible. So positive hope is a good starting point. Translate the hope into a strategy which is &ldquo;To Adapt.&rdquo; </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">If you look at a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, there is a stage in evolution when it is half of both. We need to live in the present but prepare for the future. Learn to Learn. We are all in it together. </span></p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">When blindfolded, it is not easy to see the road ahead. A clearer path will unfold in time. After a while, in choppy waters, we will get into calmer water.&nbsp;<br />&nbsp;<br />Master the Dance of Change. Quick moves, no time to rejoice, observe orient decide and act. Awakening will let you wake up to a brand-new tomorrow. Paint as you like and live happily<br /><br />&nbsp;</span></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>This article was contributed by our expert <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Chandru Theagarajan</a></em></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h3 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Chandru Theagarajan</span></h3><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. What is the positive impact of automation on employment?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">Automation can have several positive impacts on employment:</p><ul style="text-align: justify;"><li>Increases productivity and efficiency</li><li>Leading to growth in businesses and industries</li><li>Creating new job opportunities</li><li>Frees up workers from repetitive and dangerous tasks, allowing them to focus on higher-value activities that require creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills</li><li>Reduces labor costs, enabling companies to compete better in the global market and improve their bottom line</li><li>Increases job satisfaction by reducing monotony and improving work conditions, leading to reduced turnover</li><li>Improved employee retention</li><li>Supports skills development and training programs</li><li>Enabling workers to acquire new skills and transition into further, more rewarding roles</li></ul><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. Will artificial intelligence threaten highly skilled workers in the future?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">There is a concern that AI will threaten high-skilled workers in the future. As AI technology advances, it has the potential to automate certain tasks that highly skilled workers previously performed. However, it is also important to note that AI can create new job opportunities and enhance the skills of existing workers.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">For instance, AI can automate routine and repetitive tasks, freeing highly skilled workers to focus on more complex, value-adding activities requiring human expertise and creativity. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and career advancement opportunities for workers.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">3. How is using big data to analyze employees learning usage patterns useful for employees?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Personalized Learning</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Big data analysis can reveal individual learning preferences and habits, which can be used to create personalized learning experiences and improve the overall effectiveness of training programs.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><strong>Skill Development</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">By tracking employee progress and learning outcomes, organizations can identify areas where employees need additional training and development, helping to fill skill gaps and support career growth.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><strong>Improved Engagement</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Big data analysis can provide insights into which learning activities are most engaging and effective, allowing organizations to design training programs that are both impactful and enjoyable for employees.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><strong>Better Allocation of Resources</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">By understanding which training programs are most effective, organizations can make informed decisions about allocating resources, such as time and budget, to improve the overall return on investment in employee learning and development.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">4. How can AI improve employee engagement?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Personalized Feedback</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">AI-powered systems can analyze employee performance data and provide personalized feedback on areas for improvement, which can help employees feel more valued and engaged.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><strong>Gamification</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">AI can be used to create gamified learning experiences that make training and development programs more fun and engaging for employees.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><strong>Improved Communication</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">AI-powered virtual assistants can automate routine tasks, freeing up time for managers to focus on more meaningful interactions with their teams, which can help improve employee engagement and morale.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><strong>Better Work-Life Balance</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">AI can automate routine tasks and reduce the administrative burden on employees, allowing them to focus on higher-value activities and achieve better work-life balance.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><strong>Customized Learning</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">AI can analyze an individual&rsquo;s strengths, weaknesses, and learning preferences to create tailored learning programs that are more relevant and engaging.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h2 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">5. How can human touch benefit a business?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Customer Relationships</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Personal interactions with customers can help build trust, loyalty, and<br />emotional connections, which can lead to increased customer satisfaction and repeat business.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Employee Satisfaction</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated, leading to improved performance and reduced turnover.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Problem-Solving</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Personal interactions can help identify and resolve issues more effectively, leading to better decision-making and improved outcomes.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Innovation</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Personal interactions can foster creativity, collaboration, and innovation by encouraging the sharing of ideas and diverse perspectives.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><strong>Differentiation</strong></p><p style="text-align: justify;">In a world where many businesses rely on automation and technology, a human touch can set a business apart and create a unique and memorable customer experience.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><br /><br />&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Chandru Theagarajan

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