I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the article 15 Jobs That Will Be Gone in 10 Years, published online at cheatsheet.com. The author Samuel Becker based the job list on information obtained from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is as authoritative of a data source one can find for predicting future trends about jobs. The article is a quick read.
This article expands on the commentary in Becker’s article by exploring which Digital Transformation Technologies will impact each of the job roles identified for obsolescence. I’ve listed each role, the technologies impacting the role, and have provided additional commentary for each.
Multiple roles are being eliminated by the same technologies. Drivers, farmers, fishermen, postal workers, and delivery will all be impacted over the next 10 years by self-driving autonomous vehicles (cars, boats, and drones). The other common thread is Big Data and Analytics. Big Data is based on digitally gathering large volumes of consumer, production, distribution, purchase, and application specific sensor data, then organizing the data logically or temporally for longitudinal, cluster, or other analysis. Many of the roles listed will be automated and eliminated due to Big Data and Analytics enabling for automation of jobs previously requiring human expertise.
I think the author is mostly correct on which jobs will likely disappear in 10 years. However, for some jobs, the progression of technology will not eliminate the job but transform it from being a mundane, low knowledge level role to being one that requires domain knowledge and expertise and a finer understanding of the customer and marketplace. In these cases, for example travel agents, there will be fewer individuals employed in those roles, but the roles will be executing at a higher level of expertise and service delivery.
- Autonomous Vehicles, with on-board Sensors for Vision, Position, Speed, GPS, Drive Train Components, Breaking. Software Drive Control Systems.
- Roadway sensors and intelligent transportation systems.
- Big Data and Analytics for traffic pattern, intersection, safety / accident, and route analysis.
For a safe driverless transport system, it will take more than just autonomous vehicles. Citywide, regional, and interstate roadway infrastructure will require significant capital investment for upgrade. Funding from Federal and State Governments is going to be critical to ensure tollfree roads of the future.
- Robotic Devices for Planting, Harvesting, Production Processing.
- Autonomous Vehicles.
- Manufacturing Automation.
- Satellite Imaging.
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) / drones for tracking growth and health of crops.
- RFID for tracking food from field to shelf.
- Big Data and Analytics for tracking crop production output, capital utilization, and market demand.
The capital investment and technical sophistication required to manage large volume farming has grown significantly. The sole proprietor farmer cannot keep up. Using Internet of Things (IoT) with data collected from arrays of sensors in the field, on production equipment, and on product lots will enable Big Data based applications including tracking operations and product quality and optimizing annual crop type selection based on field-to-consumer Analytics.
- Email eliminating single instance point-to-point and point-to-multipoint communications.
- Imaging Processing / Barcode Scanning for end-to-end package tracking.
- Robotic Devices for Package Handling at centralized hubs.
- Autonomous Vehicles, as detailed in #1 will eliminate the need for drivers.
The US Postal Service, along with FedEx, UPS, and DHL may become the oligopoly for physical goods nationwide / global delivery. Amazon is creating their own closed system propriety package delivery service, but for delivery of any physical goods to any location, the big four will likely be the only game in town.
- The Internet.
- High quality video (HD and 4K) production and viewing on every mobile phone, tablet, computer, or TV
- YouTube and similar video delivery platforms.
In the 1990s, we were promised TV with 500 channels. This has come true. We now have a diversity of Broadcast Stations and Production Centered Channels (Discovery, Food, CNN, Football, Cartoons, and so on). What was not predicted was the enablement of “The Personal Broadcast Channel”. My personal video or commentary feed on YouTube or Facebook for example means everybody becomes a broadcaster.
- Amazon.com, eBay.com, Alibaba.com, etc.
- On line watch and jewelry repair services. (e.g. MyJewelryRepair.com).
Jewelry is a niche product and like most all products available for purchase today, access to exactly what you want at the lowest price is only as far away as an online search. If you are passionate about creating jewelry, creating your own brand of custom jewelry design and production will always be possible. But rather than create a nationwide bricks and mortar footprint to sell, you will sell your product online.
- Same trends in agriculture (#2) apply to aquaculture.
The same technologies used for managing crop growth, production, and delivery will apply to fishing and fish farms. In the case of aquaculture, the drones and robots are underwater devices used in closed production areas as well as open sea.
Printers / Publishers
- Computers, printers, word processing software.
- The Internet, WordPress, Blogs.
- Online printing and binding services.
These jobs have been going away for years. The Apple Mac and Apple Ink Jet printer did come out in 1984! Elimination of jobs for printers and publishers is similar to the disappearance of jobs for Broadcasters. Everyone can print and publish online. The real question here is what will be professionally printed and published? Will books ever really go away? Maybe not. Newspapers may go away, but will news reporting, sports reporting, and the editorial page disappear, or all merely go digital?
- Touch Screens for placing orders.
- RFID Sensors for tracking each product.
- Vision Systems for tracking customer movements.
- Facial Recognition / Bio-Identification Technology to identify customers.
- Robotics for restocking shelf / cases
- EFT payment processing.
- Big Data and Analytics for analyzing in-store traffic and purchase patterns.
Eliminating checkout personnel is happening today. Order your groceries online and have your order delivered to your car. Order at a kiosk at McDonalds and have your order delivered to your table. Most recently and notably, walk out of the store at an Amazon Go retail outlet and have the product you picked out automatically charged to your account. Clearly the ROI of using a kiosk relative to the cost of a cashier has the kiosk winning out.
- See #1 Drivers; #3 Postal Workers.
Will all forms of delivery disappear? Likely not. As discussed above, eliminating cashiers will be dependent on someone delivering product. Perhaps in 50 or 100 years when the return on capital investment in a robotic server is lower than the minimum wage for human labor, human delivery of product will disappear.
- The Internet for access to online air, hotel, car rental, vacation resort, tourist destination booking.
- Mobile device enabled Internet of Things (IoT) for travel real time tracking.
- Big Data and Analytics for making customer recommendations.
- AI travel-domain specific knowledge driven info-Bots to help you make travel selection decisions.
Travel booking sites are well known and established. The question is whether you want to assume the full risk of DIY travel, or would you rather pay a premium for a fully managed travel service that includes a guaranteed, high quality end-to-end experience. This is where future thinking travel agencies are headed, consequently travel agencies may not fully disappear but morph into a new managed travel service experience.
- Data integration with enterprise solutions for law enforcement, emergency care, fire rescue).
- GIS / geo-location / satellite imaging.
- Fault tolerance / high-availability.
- Big Data and Analytics for analysis of impact areas and service initiation / incident analysis.
While some dispatch positions will be eliminated by technology, certain critical dispatch roles will be retained and enhanced by technology, including Emergency Service dispatch services (e.g. 911). Can you imagine the experience of talking to a computer when there is an emergency? “I’m sorry, I did not understand what you said.”
- Caller ID.
- Call center automation systems.
- Vendor product specific call-Bots.
Will tele-sales calls still be made? Yes. Will you answer the call? Sometimes but less and less often. There is however an industry centered on call centers, their technology, and the outsourcing of telemarketing services. While there is a small hope that our phone will stop ringing with unwanted solicitations, tele-sales calls won’t be going away anytime soon.
Social Media Professionals
- Intelligent personal assistants to automate searching social media feeds for information and connections based on your own filters, likes, personal history, and areas of interest.
- Virtual Reality (and other forms of digital media content) to enable creation of virtual spaces to gather with friends or make acquaintances.
- Big Data and Analytics to aggregate and categorize individual interactions, determine trends, and hypothesize underlying motivations and drivers.
Social media professionals are not going anywhere any time soon. Corporate social media accounts need to be managed in real time and with a personal touch. Corporations don’t want negative news or commentary becoming a PR crisis. This is why PR agencies are not on the disappearing jobs list! We can expect some social media interactions to become automated, for example those related to standard product inquiries. However, the introduction of new technologies like VR will create new roles in social media requiring new skill sets to engage with the public one-on-one.
- 3D Printing enabling anyone to produce parts on demand.
- Collaborative robotics which enables production robots to coordinate activities in real time.
- Internet of Things driving Big Data and Analytics related to all aspects of production, product forecasting, sales and delivery.
Manufacturing jobs have been disappearing for 30 years or more. In their place are not labor-intensive jobs, but smart automation jobs that are spawning the 4th Industrial Revolution. The Digital Manufacturing Enterprise (DME) refers to the technology intensive manufacturing revolution involving 1) production of goods, 2) the automation of the supply chain for input materials for production delivery to the market, and 3) customization of the product creation process to open new markets and industries.
Sports Officials and Referees
- Live 3D capture of sporting events for precise photogrammetric measurement of each play.
I’m not so sure how many professional sports referees may be displayed by technology, but my guess is that it won’t be that many. Technology for capture and playback of sporting events has been evolving since videotape was used to show a replay in 1963. What is needed is 3D replay with precise measurements to eliminate bad calls.