Will Your Industry DIE in soon, or CONVERGE?

There’s an age-old and ongoing debate on whether robots will replace humans in the workplace. When will this debate come to an end? It’s already evident that with the rapid advancement in machine learning and robotics, most of the routine jobs will eventually be automated and no longer be performed by humans.

The Debate

The jobs that are most susceptible to automation are jobs that are fundamentally predictable. These are jobs where you can document a process on how to do it.

However, there will always be a need for people who design, select and configure the machines to solve the problem. There will also be a need for people who define the problem. To ask the right questions at the right times. Machines need humans to tell them what problem to solve, and what question to answer.

Think of it this way. If machines did replace humans, then we no longer have a machine. If it is as smart as a human, and acts like a human, then we have a human, or at least an intelligent living being. By then, we will have a much bigger issue to deal with than simply job-losses.

There’s actually a nifty app which predicts the probability that robots will take your job:
See: Will Robots Take My Job?.

What sparked me to write this article is an article written by Oleg Vishnepolsky: “Recruitment industry will die in 2018“.

The Recruitment Industry

Oleg is referring to the recruitment industry, but it applies to many other industries, such as accounting, financial services and real estate. Technology is removing intermediary players. However, if the industry is providing value, then I don’t believe it will die. Technology will simply raise the bar. It means that recruiters will be able to (and be expected to) source a greater number of higher quality candidates in a shorter timeframe. Why? Because machines have taken over most of the routine work of reading CVs, monitoring social media, asking the same questions over-and-over, and shortlisting candidates.

As a recruiter, you’ll be expected to do what machines cannot do. Backtesting the algorithms to ensure it’s providing high quality candidates, assessing special circumstances for your candidates, developing relationships with passive candidates and devising strategies to convert them into active candidates, and of course, vetting the final decision suggested by automated reports and analytics.

The Convergence

There will be a convergence of data scientists and recruiters. Not only that… but there will be a convergence of data scientists and many other industries: (1) accountants… (2) marketers… (3) even surgeons are using more robotics and will be less hands-on in future, and they’ll be configuring and using machines instead.

So, not only is technology raising the bar. Technology is lowering the barriers of entry into any industry. Machines are replacing many low-level specialised grunt work that previously took years to master. Your skills in data analysis and selecting the right tools to solve problems are transferrable across industries. This means a tech and data-savvy marketer can become a recruiter in less than a month. It no longer takes years to master a specific industry. If you master one, you can master all.

This means that if you’re an entrepreneur and/or data scientist, you will NOT be replaced by robots. You will be solving more interesting problems within the domain of recruitment, accounting, marketing, surgery and so on. There will be less friction switching from one domain (e.g. recruitment) to another domain (e.g. surgery). Businesses that are doing things manually will not only be competing with their own industry, but businesses from other industries. If I can give this phenomenon a name, then I’ll name it the “convergence of industries and professions”.

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