The Changing Workplace and How to Equip Yourself for It

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The workplace is constantly changing. It has been ever since people first started working for a living and that constant evolution is inevitable. Over the last few centuries, humans have worked in mines, fields, warehouses, factories and since the technological revolution began, in office spaces. Every single workplace throughout history has undergone changes and subsequently, the skills required to work in these workplaces have changed accordingly.

With the internet explosion in the last decade and a half, jobs in the online space have risen sharply and they are continuing to do so. However, the sheer pace of the current technological evolution has led to a shortfall in the talent required to fill the available job openings. And this skill gap is predicted to widen further, as new job types are created each year. Indeed, one interesting statistic predicts that 65% of children who are just starting school today will end up in jobs that don’t even exist yet!

In this eBook, we will be looking at how job trends are changing, what you can do to equip yourself adequately for what lies ahead and how data is at the very heart of it all.

The Ever-Changing Job Market

It might sound like a bit of a cliche but the job market has always been volatile – it is simply the nature of the economic system we exist in. Different societal and technological trends come and go, bringing and taking with them thousands of job opportunities. There are certain jobs that quite simply nobody has to do anymore. For instance, in the mid-20th century, the job of a telephone operator was critical. When any telephone call was made, the operator would receive it first and then forward it to the correct number, using an enormous switchboard. With mobile phones in all our pockets today and the ability to call anyone with just the push of a button, we can’t even fathom that speaking on the phone was once that convoluted. As telephone technology became more sophisticated, telephone operators soon became obsolete. And today, we’ve gone several steps further since then.

And that is at the very crux of what we will discuss in this article. Technology is evolving at a remarkable rate and this is leading to significant changes across the board. As with the phone operators of the 1900s, jobs that traditionally needed human intervention are being replaced by machines, which can achieve the same results at a fraction of the cost, as technology continues to scale upwards. There are also other factors also connected to these changes – geopolitical volatility and rapidly changing demographics being significant contributors in their own way.

A Brief History of Careers

If we go all the way back to ancient human civilization, picking a job was fairly easy. We started off as hunters and gatherers and then once we got the hang of identifying changes in the seasons, we moved on to one of the game-changers in history – agriculture. Its impact was so necessary and immediate that it still forms a major part of so many countries’ economy even today.


Over the centuries, more and more jobs kept getting created as civilization expanded – fishermen, miners, weavers, blacksmiths, doctors, engineers – the list goes on and on. While new jobs are still being created today, one fact has always held true. Technology has been tapped into wherever possible, to make these jobs easier. The Industrial Revolution, the dotcom boom and the startup explosion we currently find ourselves in highlight this constant improvement of the workplace perfectly and technology has been integral to each of these seismic trends.

That being said, all technology doesn’t survive forever.

Changes in Technology and Related Jobs

From 1995 to about 2000, the world was living in something that came to be known as the dot-com bubble. The internet was becoming part of people’s daily lives faster than any piece of technology in history. And with the rise of the internet and ever-increasing accessibility, web companies began to spring up at an unprecedented rate. Investors saw future in them and sank millions into just about any company that had a website ending in “.com”. Many of these companies did not have sound business models, but that did not matter. The US economy was in the middle of an incredible expansion and people figured that it could only keep improving.

However, the perceived value of these companies was a far cry from what they actually had to offer. The bubble kept growing until it couldn’t any more and then in 2000, it burst, causing countless companies to run out of capital and shut down, a recession in the American economy and most intriguingly, a sudden glut in the job market for computer programmers, as thousands of them were laid off as a result of the dot-com crash.

University enrollments for computer programs also dropped significantly, as there didn’t seem to be a future in that space.

As we now know, the IT sector rallied and stabilized over time and we are once again in the midst of a massive upswing in internet companies. However, unlike last time, companies need to have enough real value for investors to keep pouring money into them and many companies end up folding without posing a serious threat to the economy. We also have the giants of the tech world, such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, who act almost as anchors to prevent the internet ship from sinking again.

What this story serves to highlight more than anything else is the fact that no industry is immune to the pitfalls of changing trends around the world. We don’t know how long this current “bubble” of internet companies may last but the best way to survive in it is to equip ourselves with the right skills to extract the most value out of it.

As we touched on earlier, children who are only just beginning their education today will likely work in jobs that don’t exist yet. The flipside of that is the fact that a significant number of jobs in the world today are likely to become obsolete in that same timeframe. Here are some jobs that experts are predicting might be entirely taken over by technology in the near future:

Chauffeurs/Drivers: With self-driving cars being worked on as we speak, there is every chance that a few generations from now, people won’t need to have driving licenses anymore. Moreover, jobs for taxi drivers or even personal chauffeurs could be gone.

Farming: Despite the fact that it occupies a significant position in our world, agriculture is already being slowly overtaken by automation. For now, technology is being devised to assist farmers and make their practices more efficient. But experts believe that the farmers themselves might be replaced by the technology in the future.

Cashiers: Self-checkout stations are already being used in supermarkets around the world and they are likely to become far more common as the technology continues to improve.

Manufacturing Workers: A few generations ago, working in a factory was almost the done thing. However, with Artificial Inelligence (AI) becoming more sophisticated, companies can automate the entire process, to even assemble something as intricate as a car engine.

Stock Traders: While being a stock market expert is still something that people aspire to because of the prestige it brings, there’s every chance that Artificial Intelligence could replace them one day.

All these changing trends in the workplace point to one thing, at least for now. Online technology is the present and the future and analytics has taken up a significant role in this ecosystem. A report by McKinsey, which interviewed recruiters about the desired skills vs their availability was quite revealing.

The top 5 most wanted skills in this survey were

  • Big Data Analytics
  • Cyber Security
  • Business Intelligence
  • Digital & Social Media Marketing
  • and the Internet of Things

This immediately places analytics as a whole in the “hot property” category. Analytics is being adopted by just about every company in the world today to take their businesses to new heights. The data has always been there but companies have started placing a lot more importance on this data for helpful insights on how they can improve or even change some of their practices entirely.

In India, especially, the data industry is growing at a substantial pace. According to a study by Analytics India Magazine and AnalytixLabs, the Data Science industry is estimated to generate around $2.71 billion in annual revenue and this is growing at a healthy 33.5% compounded annual rate.

The demand for analytics talent is spread across multiple sectors too, with the revenue pouring in from finance & banking, marketing & advertising, travel & hospitality, pharmaceuticals & healthcare and many more.

And the most significant aspect of all this is that each one of these is growing by the day. In the next part of the article, we’ll take a closer look at the hottest job prospects on offer today and how they can help fill the skill gap that is still persisting today.


Analytics In Demand

As we saw above, the need and want for great analytics talent is constantly growing. And this ties in closely with the way consumer behaviour has changed in the last decade or so. A large portion of what we do is now online – shopping, social interactions, buying investments, booking a holiday, just about anything that we need is available with a few clicks of a few buttons. With everything we do on the internet, we generate enormous amounts of data and all this data is immensely valuable.

Consumer-related companies use the data to enhance the user experience. Governments can use the data generated by its citizens and their behaviour to take decisions on public policy and much more. Almost every company that needs to market in some way can use customer behaviour to sell more of their products to the people who need it. And so, using the right analytics techniques to examine this data is becoming more and more important – and in turn, creating numerous job opportunities.

As we saw earlier, technologies such as Big Data Analytics and the Internet of Things are some of the capabilities most sought after by organizations. The rest of the analytics branches aren’t far behind. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are being used in everything from self-learning cars to virtual personal assistants like Google Home and Siri. Even the most basic analytics skills are highly valuable to any company that deals with large amounts of data on a regular basis.

Having a deep understanding of a range of analytics tools can make you an extremely desirable candidate for just about any company.

Let’s take a closer look at the technologies that are making it big across industries and what applications they may bring with them.

Big Data Analytics

Big Data essentially refers to large volumes of data being generated at a high frequency. Basically, any service or product that caters to a large number of people will likely be generating massive volumes of data constantly. Large companies like Walmart and Target have adopted Big Data analytics successfully to enhance their business prospects. For instance, Target used customer behaviour to accurately predict when any given customer of theirs was likely to have a baby and then targeted and tailored their marketing accordingly.

Big Data technology is also used by local governments to optimize cities. They can track things like traffic movement and congestion and then devise plans to make the entire system more efficient. Needless to say, there is a perennial need for Big Data analysts around the world, who are well-versed in data warehousing and tools like Apache Spark, Apache Hadoop and more.

Internet of Things

One of the fastest growing branches of analytics, IOT covers a substantial portion of technology that has its uses in daily life. The Internet of Things essentially refers to the billions of devices used around the world and their integration with cloud systems on the internet, which serve to make our lives easier.

Becoming a master of IOT technology can open countless doors for just about anyone. Understanding Cloud Management and how to build an IOT device are some of the more elementary aspects, but they will stand you in good stead as you move ahead in your career. IOT is being implemented by companies as varied as Rolls Royce, Coca Cola and DHL to optimize processes, create consumer-centric services and ensure quality control.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

While these are both interconnected, there are differences in how they are defined and what they do. AI is essentially the very ability of a machine to understand things from a more “human” perspective and is more of a broad term. Machine Learning on the other hand, is an application of AI, which enables a computer to analyze and interpret data and learn from it as it goes along.

Both of them have tremendous applications in a wide variety of domains. A great example is a chatbot that a company may use for customer service. By assessing the inputs of a customer, a chatbot can identify the appropriate statement to respond with and help resolve the query. Online security also leans heavily on AI, especially for functions like facial recognition, which can be used as a security step for a personal account.

Other Analytics functions

It goes without saying that the spread of analytics is far wider than the three fields mentioned above, but they are the most prominent at the moment. Business Analytics is picking up in a big way and companies are trying to either hire the right talent for it, or upskill their existing employees to fill the gap. Analytics has also proven to be immensely effective in the HR sector, as human resource persons can use data to identify gaps in the company’s hiring processes, streamline KPIs for teams and even identify which employees are likely to leave.

Demand in the Market

Given the tremendous applications of analytics, it goes without saying that the demand for the right talent is constantly growing. India is a massive exporter of analytics and this trend is very much on the upswing. While the United States contributes the largest portion of the analytics revenue in India (currently almost $1.7 billion), the UK accounts about 9.6% of the revenue and the analytics revenues from Romania, UAE, Belgium, Poland, New Zealand and Spain almost doubled in the last year. Additionally, Indian companies contribute about 4.7% of the total revenue. As such, it’s plainly visible that the industry is burgeoning and the opportunities are only likely to increase in due course, as technology continues to improve.

The long and the short of it, is that analytics is hot property right now and has rightly been labeled “the sexiest job of the 20th century”.

The Skill Gap

With the demand increasing at this furious pace, the supply of data analysts to take up those roles needs to keep pace. There are some signs that we are working towards this – according to the AIM survey, around 16,000 freshers were added to the analytics workforce this year, indicating a 33% increase in fresher hiring.


However, a significant gap still exists in the market and if unchecked, it could become unmanageable. Job openings in data science are expected to rise to about 100,000 by the end of 2018 and almost double by 2020, leading to a demand-supply gap of almost 200,000. Meanwhile, the prospective salaries in this field, even for freshers, are quite promising. A two-to-four year experience employee can earn 15 to 20 lakhs per annum in a data science role, whereas four to eight years of experience can get you anywhere from 20 to 50 lakhs annually.

The data jobs exist and we have enough people to fill them. It’s estimated that 64% of India’s population will be in the working age group by 2020. Where we do fall short is by not having enough people skilled enough to do the jobs that are available. This skill gap should be a primary focus for employers everywhere at the moment.

Finding new employees with the right skill set is not always a straightforward task and so upskilling becomes a critical part of the process. Around 40% of IT professionals would need to upskill themselves in the next few years and it’s never too late to get started on it. There are plenty of skills to choose from and you should find something that fits your requirements

Skills you need to develop

The McKinsey survey we referenced earlier in this article is a good indicator of the kind of jobs available and being sought out by different companies.

Technical Skills

These include the main branches of analytics as well as other skills which relate to computer programming. In the survey, a graph plotting desirability vs availability of these skills shows that Fintech is the only job which is on the low side of desirability. Artificial Intelligence is the skill with the least available talent, whereas Big Data is the most desired, with Cyber Security a close second.

Software and Mobile App Development were in very high demand a few years ago and that contributed to a bit of a glut in the market. As a result, while they are still in demand, finding developers for these two functions is relatively easy and the jobs fall on that side of the matrix. For anyone looking to break into one of these fields, exploring skills like AI, Cyber Security, IOT and Big Data would be the ideal paths to take, as those are in high demand, without a steady supply of available skilled professionals.

Soft Skills

Amidst all the talk of technical skills and how valuable they are, soft skills are often overlooked or taken for granted. While managerial and leadership skills can be taught upto an extent, after a point, it’s down to the individual to make the most of them and make themselves more valuable to their company. In the same McKinsey report, a separate matrix plots the desirability and the availability of managerial skills against each other and the results are quite revealing.

Once again, there is only one skill on the “less desirable” side of the graph. Leadership skills are a clear winner, as they are the most desired as well as the least available, making any role as a leader a critical one for any company. Hiring good leaders ensures better productivity and overall harmony in any organization and so these soft skills should definitely not be overlooked. Other skills such as People Management, Communication Skills and Time Management also all find themselves on the more desirable side of the matrix.

Conclusion

The main conclusion we can draw from all that we’ve looked at in this piece, is that the workplace is forever in flux. Roles come and go, some last longer than others but there is definitely a certain amount of staying power for certain profiles. In the here and the now, data skills are among the most valued by just about any workplace. The need for data transcends internet organizations and analyzing data for valuable insights has become equally important across all sectors.

Equipping yourself with the right skills can help you get the most out of the professional world as things stand. The importance of data promises to only grow further in importance and so anyone who switches to a career in analytics right now will likely see significant gains for some time to come. Identifying what branch of analytics is right for you is critical and becoming a specialist in that field can take you far.

To explore all the analytics training programs Jigsaw Academy has to offer, you can visit our website here. For more information, call us on +91 90192 17000.