A message for prospective job seekers and employers.
With the quick progression of technology in the past 50 years, many are asking the question about AI singularity. Essentially, AI singularity is the invention of artificial superintelligence that surpasses human intelligence. In this hypothesis, a computer with artificial intelligence would maintain self-improvement cycles leading to an accelerated change in technology. Artificial intelligence now is much more benign. Most AI programs can only accomplish one function at a time such as facial recognition or translating foreign languages. Although AI is far from the singularity, many employers already see changes in the business environment.
Consider Otto, an American truck company experimenting with autonomous vehicles. They use AI to function as the brain of their self-driving technologies to collect and process data in their environment and make specific actions. Otto made its first automated delivery in late 2016 with a 120-mile route between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. Otto and Softbank are not the only two companies utilizing AI, as many other organizations use it to find patterns and process data. This brings up the question, what does this mean for prospective job seeker and employers?
For employers, this might change the nature of assessing candidates. Companies would be able to attain a large amount of unemployment data, analyze it, and make an informed decision in a matter of seconds. These new screening systems could also change the process of finding candidates. Recruiters will use new tools to analyze on-paper candidates before interviews. While AI may ensure better screening and candidate fit, it will be difficult to process human emotion during an interview. This solidifies humans as the dominant role in the hiring process.
Potential job candidates should also consider a world-leading towards the idea of AI singularity. Prospective job seekers will see changes in professions on how they were previously performed. This means adaptability is the key to success. Some occupations will be discontinued entirely. Although this may be real, new jobs that require more complex knowledge tend to replace older ones. For example, before computers, telephone operators were used. Since the rise of technology, this job has ceased to exist. According to a study by AT&T, many of the telephone operators found jobs as typists or transcriptionists. Just as computers created more jobs, artificial intelligence will sprout new industries for job seekers to go into. Being able to readjust to technologically is another key to success.
Beyond this, technical knowledge will be extremely important in the job market. To maximize chances for success, one may consider evolving and learning alongside technology. This will better prepare one for jobs that will use AI and automation. For example, positions such as maintenance technicians and IT are in high demand in the current market. Although these positions may be not relevant with AI singularity, similar jobs will be needed to fill such as machine learning technician.
Just because technology is advancing does not mean all hope is lost. Many industries will adapt to artificial intelligence, and new industries will be created. This produces many opportunities for both employers and potential job seekers. The most successful are going to be those who embraced the change and used technology to its full advantage.
AR/VR is Defining the New Era of Enterprise Mobility.
From pagers to phones with internet capabilities and GPS, mobile technology has accelerated quickly over the past decade. Even with a tremendous amount of innovation, mobile technology will soon be obsolete. With the recent development of augmented and virtual reality, businesses can now use this technology in place of mobile tech. Companies such as Facebook have already embraced the change making virtual reality its central vision. Overall, AR/VR now has a broader range of applications in the workplace. Here are just a couple of examples how AR/VR can impact the work environment.
Technicians and engineers are using AR/VR to assist with completing manual tasks. With virtual reality headsets, overlay of information, instructions, or maps are given to the technician to better support the service, has increased worker productivity as there is less time spent analyzing charts or instruction manuals. This technology also aims to improve accuracy and reduce the amount of error or injuries found on the job.
Real World Training
Companies are using AR/VR for employee training. By immersing the employee in a virtual reality experience, the staff member can retain more information than traditional practice. This can increase efficiency at a lower cost. Medical universities use virtual reality to simulate real-world scenarios and better prepare med students. One test shows that surgeons retained 80% of training material via VR compared to only 20% via lecture.
Customer Experience and Sales Improvement
Marketers are using this technology to allows customers virtual interaction with brands. This can better help consumers visualize products and allow more profound insight into buyer preferences. For companies, this leads to a more efficient marketing campaign. In some cases, allowing customers the ability to interact with products through virtual reality on the showroom floor can sell products. For example, Makeup companies using VR carry the ability to allow the customer to experiment with makeup on their face before purchasing the item.
Real-Time Analytics and Data
Companies can use AR/VR to create real-time analytics. For boardroom meetings, this means communicating more effectively to show real-time business data and forecasts. This helps improve decision making and better unifies understanding of operations. Aircraft pilots are already using this for the visualization of simulation results. Instead of continually moving back and forth, they can analyze everything from one location.
Warehousing and Logistics
Warehouses can use this technology to guide workers for stocking, organizing, and tagging items. This can better assist with product losses and worker injuries that occur in the warehouse. One study has shown that smart glasses increased efficiency by over 25%. Beyond this, AR/VR has severe effects on logistics by adding a warehouse control system. This can maximize efficiency for distribution centers.
The potential for augmented reality is endless. More businesses are recognizing this and are incorporating VR into their processes. Enterprises need to capitalize on this movement earlier than its competitors. With a progression towards AR/VR, technology such as phones and tablets may become obsolete. The potential for mobile tech is slowing down as it nears the end of its life. It is time to embrace the new trend and technology change that is virtual reality.
The mind-body context refers to the interconnectedness of both mind and body and how they play an immense role in productivity. Neglecting one of the two can lead to a sluggish feeling and becomes an essential aspect in the workplace as it can have considerable effects on job performance. Managing these correctly through simple tasks can better increase one’s quality of life.
The mind affects concentration, the process of accomplishing tasks, and the capability of completing goals. Additionally, the mentality of the job is essential. Having negative thoughts about the role and coworkers can create mental tension. This may also include doubting one’s ability, settling for less, and general self-doubt leading to losses of concentration or deep depression. A recent study shows that 20% of Millennials sought advice in the workplace for depression. Psychologists have found that contrary thoughts on work can cause the brain to focus on general life negativity including fears, anger, and stress.
The body plays another significant role in productivity. Muscles can become tense from sitting for long periods of time creating cramps and possible fidgeting. Beyond this, little sleep can create general exhaustion leading to loss of focus during the workday. This is one of the largest problems employees face today. Gallup shows that 40% of US workers get less than the recommended amount of sleep which creates a loss of productivity. Beyond sleep and muscle fatigue, the body needs nutrition. It is recommended to eat smaller, more frequent meals to have a consistent glucose level throughout the workday.
Fitness plays another significant role as it affects both the mind and the body. Exercising has many benefits including improving sleep, reducing stress, and making people feel energized. This directly affects the other two connections. Additionally, exercise slows neural degeneration. The Journal of Applied Physiology found that mandatory treadmill running stimulates precursor cells to increase production of critical brain cells. This overall can helps one to feel more astute in the workplace.
With all this in mind, there are easy ways to manage the mind-body connection and fitness.
Here are just a couple ways:
Meditation can create a short mental break to refresh the mind before continuing with challenging tasks. In some cases, clearing the mind before significant events can help cope with anxiety and stress.
Accomplish mentally challenging tasks before easy ones. Because easier tasks take less mental process, they can be accomplished towards the end of the day. This creates better, more efficient outcomes for complex assignments.
Stretching the body can help with feeling jittery or general muscle cramps. Doing so every couple of hours can better increase productivity.
Have small, healthy snacks in the work area. Like previously mentioned, this can help stabilize glucose levels which, in turn, helps with mental focus.
Create a workout routine. Slowly integrating exercise can help lead to a healthier lifestyle. Scheduling times in the morning or after work can better create the feeling of consistency.
Of course, these are not the only tasks to help find balance. Setting personal goals is the best way to be more successful. Accomplishing balance can better increase workplace productivity and lead to a healthier lifestyle.
The Growing Impact of Blockchain, and Why It’s Important
When the world was first introduced to the Bitcoin back in 2008, a new era of digital technology sprung up that would change the lives of many and the world as we know it. Though, the direct impact of Blockchain technology may be difficult for many to notice in their everyday lives. The tech’s presence is there. Though the idea of cryptocurrencies and Blockchain’s has been thrown around for years, it was not until 2008 that the plans started becoming accepted by the masses.
What is the Blockchain?
Before diving in and discussing the growing impact of the Blockchain and why everyone should be in the “know,” readers should understand what the Blockchain is precise. Mostly, the Blockchain is a digital ledger, similar to accounting ledgers, the main differences being that it is decentralized, anonymous, and can function on millions of devices at the same time as long as users have internet access. Whereas, regular accounting ledgers store information about financial transactions. The Blockchain goes much deeper than that. Information about money, sports, real estate, votes, and even intellectual property can be integrated with and recorded on the Blockchain. All of the data on the Blockchain is protected by cryptographic principles and extremely complicated mathematical algorithms that are constantly improving and becoming more secure in unison with tech developments.
Industries it impacts
A lot of the talk surrounding Blockchain technology stems from the fact that it practically eliminates the need for middlemen and third parties. Due to transactions being carried out in a trustless manner, there is no requirement of intermediaries like banks, notaries, etc. The Blockchain can in reality, drastically change the financial service industry by eliminating high costs, complex bureaucracy, and the need for regulatory bodies to get involved. However, as research into this field continues, the benefits of the Blockchain don’t just cover the financial sector, but spill over to various other business, government, societal, and other sectors.
Current and foreseeable benefits
Blockchain technology can reduce a lot of transaction costs that businesses and individual experience. However, Blockchain technology was but the gateway for many other highly impactful technological developments. Such as the Ethereum Blockchain, Smart Contracts, and ICO’s. Smart contracts are programs that are automated, function on an “if”- “then” basis, and self-execute themselves based on predetermined conditions being met and verified. These smart contracts can cause costs associated with renting, contracting, making payments, and dealing with real estate properties to absolutely plummet, while the efficiency and speed of executing such actions improve. For example, a music artist could generate a smart contract and distribute creative content directly through the contract, without having to go through record producers, labels, and intermediaries to get their product out to the masses. This, of course, eliminates the need for royalties and excess fees that artists have commonly been encumbered by. Blockchain technology has the power to solve the issue of intellectual property in our increasingly digitalized time.
Since the introduction of the world-wide-web and the internet, piracy has been a constant issue for many content creators and intellectual property. Movie makers, graphic designers, writers, and artists have had their content was taken and pirated out through torrent based platforms. Allowing internet users to gain access to such content for free. This has created a lot of financial, trust, and security issues. However, services that utilize Blockchain technology to quell piracy issues have been popping up. Currently, artists have a few options for liking their work to digital registries and distributing them via the Blockchain, while retaining their rights, financial compensation, and solving the double-spend issue.
Companies like Uber, Spotify, Gett, and Netflix are aggregators. They provide a platform through which other users can offer their services while paying a service fee to these aggregators. However, the Blockchain and smart contracts allow individuals to deliver their services to the masses while retaining value for themselves. Soon, anyone will be able to launch their transportation services via a smart contract and have their business data integrated with the Blockchain. Imagine being an Uber driver, but as opposed to working under Ubers logo, you would work entirely for yourself, under your decisions, while enjoying unsolicited earnings for the services you provide.
Professional firms can draw benefits from the Blockchain while alleviating themselves from commonly experienced headaches. For example, shipment payments can be fully automated through the use of smart contracts. Packages can even be embedded with GPS functionality, and transportation payments and locations could be automatically distributed and recorded via the Blockchain. The fact that all of the data stored through smart contracts and the Blockchain is immutable, unchangeable, and irreversible provides for an extraordinarily secure way through which financial institutions can store their data for practically any application or use.
Everything will only get better.
Despite already cutting costs significantly and reducing a lot of hassles that individuals are encumbered by when conducting their day to day deeds, Blockchain technology will inevitably continue to develop at a progressive rate. Many cryptocurrencies provide for a great store of wealth through which investors can experience phenomenal gains. Smart contracts shave away the need for third parties. Large, multinational organizations are already trying to figure out how they can adopt Blockchain technology to simplify their business process. The price of a Bitcoin recently rippled through the $6,000 limit, with more and more people turning their attention towards the crypto industry and its benefits. Though, society can not predict where this technology is headed in the near future. The Blockchain will become increasingly more important in societies everyday lives. With governments such as Russia, China, Korea, and The United States already figuring out how to work with the Blockchain to open their citizens to its benefits. One thing is for certain though: Blockchain is here to stay, and the next age of workforce and enterprise industry will experience invaluable propositions by embracing the technology.
Is Gamification the Solution to Productivity Woes at the Workplace?
Gamification, an industry that has been around before 2003 but only gained a lot of traction recently. However, what is gamification? Do we need it and how does it benefit ones overall professional productivity? Essentially, gamification is a design process that takes into account the behavior of human beings and their efficiency instead of taking a look at the effectiveness of the entire system as a whole. Imagine a factory, that follows a standard protocol that is designed to complete the tasks at hand as efficiently and quickly as possible. The biggest issue with systems that are designed like this is that they very rarely take into account the fact that workers are human beings at the core level, and have emotions, insecurities, and reasons as to why they want to get things done and why not. Gamification goes much deeper than just assigning points and badges to workers. Let’s take a look at some of the productivity benefits that can be derived from adopting gamification in the workplace.
Boost Employee Morale
Before we dive into the benefits that can be drawn from gamification, let’s discuss the principles and critical mechanics that build up the gamification philosophy. Which are: goals, badges, leveling up, onboarding, competition, collaboration, community, points, goals, transparency, fast feedback. While we won’t discuss each mechanic in detail, it is important to note that for gamification to properly work, employee participation must be voluntary. However, employees that adopted a gamification philosophy are less likely to leave, more likely to put out more effort, and perform better, leading to improved happiness and profitability within an organization. The accumulation of stats, points, rewards, and etc. help keep employees more motivated and engaged in the workplace.
By introducing gamification to an organizations workspace, employees and relevant parties will have to quickly become familiar with the latest technology out there that can be used in their professional fields. However, in an engaging and fun way. Combining this exposure with point and reward systems commonly used in gamification processes, individuals are sure to become much more productive in the workplace and more creative as well.
Encourages friendly competition and reduces stress
The point and reward system that is commonly used in many gamified business structures promotes a competitive yet friendly culture. Employees become motivated by the recognition they receive through these rewards, which acts as a driver for better performance and results. This also encourages collaboration between teams and a company as a whole. Deloitte has used gamification principles to improve the partnership between their worldwide consultants significantly.
Improves Sales, Human Resources, and Marketing
All quality sales representatives are naturally competitive. However, occasionally, sales personnel may be left without a reward after spending a significant amount of time tackling leads, cold calling, and trying to get their foot in the door. Though, rejections are statistically just as vital as successes. The principles of gamification encourage management to reward compliant and hardworking individuals. Additionally, gamification creates an excellent system for monitoring performance, holding peer reviews, and recognizing employee achievements by the human resource department. Hiring processes are also improved as recruits tend to feel engaged and interested in a corporate culture that has adopted gamification. Employees who work in a gamified environment show greater social advocacy towards their professions and organizations. Gamification can automate and boost natural marketing to a great extent.
Which companies have seen great success with gamification?
Samsung is a company with strong brand advocacy that prides itself on its ability to create value, and user accepted content. Samsung launched a loyalty program known as the Samsung Nation. The Samsung loyalty program allows users to participate in sweepstakes, answer questions, watch videos, and become engaged with the organization. For their efforts, users are rewarded with cool badges and achievements. After implementing the loyalty program, Samsung saw a massive increase in site visitors, comments, and great product reviews.
Google decided to make some effort towards improving employee travel expense submissions on time. Instead of just sending out email warnings, Google decided to gamify the submission process totally. The company offered employees the possibility of either getting paid out based on the amount of travel allowance that was unspent, saving it for a future trip, or even donating their allowances to a charity of choice. Following this gamification process, Google’s travel allowance compliant rate shot up to 100%.
Microsoft is continually facing the issue of language localization in its product line up. However, it is quite challenging to ensure that all of their translations are entirely accurate and make sense to native speakers. How did they gamify this process? By creating a language game, which allowed its employees to view translation screens on their devices and make sure that the translations were accurate. Microsoft’s game attracted over 4,000 users who were able to verify over 500,000 screens and provide sensible language corrections for the company and its users base.
Do we need more gamification?
Gamification allows employers to compensate and motivate employees without changing all of the aspects of a professional environment that most employees have grown fond of. Employers all over the world are turning their attention towards gamification to make their work environment more productive, fun, engaging, and enjoyable for all people involved in the process. Even small and simple things such as leaderboards, point systems have been shown to improve significantly overall productivity, competitiveness, and teamwork. But is gamification only a good fit for companies that are in some way directly related to the tech industry? The answer to that is no. Regardless of the industry in which it is employed, the world needs more gamification. When gamification is well designed and introduced to the workspace – everyone benefits from it, going from salespeople to engineers, marketers, managers, and accountants. A well-designed gamification system can significantly improve overall productivity, happiness, and efficiency. Therefore, well-designed gamification is an answer to common workspace woes.
Advice for fresh graduates to get hired and improve their resume
Employers are eager to scoop up the latest graduates in technology and other fields, but with government student-loan forgiveness programs and mid-life career changes, there are more and more graduates each year according to the “National Association of Colleges” and the competition is intense. How do you stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re younger and inexperienced?
Show, Don’t Tell
While you should always flesh out your resume with concise examples of all your accomplishments, remember that you’ll still make a better impression if you demonstrate ability rather than talk about it. Positive energy, an eagerness to learn, and a hunger for opportunity are all things employers are looking for in the interview room. Just be yourself and make sure that your bodily functions are met. Get some sleep, eat something, and bear in mind that food and mood go together. Exercise never hurts either, and anything that boosts your confidence will impact your ability to show your strength.
If you’ve got the pedigree, show it off
Anything that impresses your potential boss is good news for you, just don’t be cocky about it. Remember that classroom experience is rarely as valuable as on-the-job training, but your goal is to stand out. If you have a double major, know a second language, or studied at a prestigious university, use what you’ve got for maximum benefit even if those skills don’t relate to the job you’re applying for. You never know when one of your side activities might pleasantly surprise your employer and open up new avenues of advancement that you may not be aware of.
Just as with show, don’t tell, the best way to stand out from the crowd is to do some extra credit. Maybe it’s a proposal you’ve worked up, a sample program, some research, or a fresh idea you think might be valuable—whatever it is, show that you will go above and beyond the call of duty and make sure that your pitch goes outside your job description.
Do a SWOT Analysis
A Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats analysis is a great way to talk about or visualize your relative value to a company by calling attention to what you offer while minimizing the risks involved. In short, it’s just proper business procedure, and every boss will appreciate your effort to communicate with them on a level they can understand—the bottom line.
Focus on opportunity rather than compensation
If you’re applying for your first job, chances are you’re not going to be offered a great comp package. Don’t fret about that, just focus on what you can do to grow with the company and what they can provide you with to reward your loyalty. This is especially true if you’re aiming for a leadership position, and you should always focus on how you can innovate to help the company and your co-workers move forward. Of course, there is never any guarantee that you’ll be rewarded or that someone higher up the chain won’t take credit for your work. What is guaranteed is that if you don’t bring your A-game to the table every day, you are destined to take a back seat to someone else who does.
The worst form of self-sabotage is false confidence, and bosses simply don’t have time for it. Be confident, yes, but do so with just cause and don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong or when you simply don’t know the answer to a question. Focus on how you can improve your performance and let others praise your work.
While pursuing your unique strategy to stand out, remember the classic holy trinity of salesmanship: get them to know, like, and trust you. Show them who you are, be friendly, courteous, and above all truthful.
Whether it’s an oppressive atmosphere or office politics, no one likes a toxic company culture. Worse, most choose to ignore the problem rather than raise concerns due to fear or intimidation. Over time, a toxic environment can weaken the bonds between co-workers and grind productivity to a halt. So, as a leader in your enterprise, how do you know if your company culture is toxic if employees don’t speak up?
Toxicity rolls downhill
It all starts with the examples and expectations set by management. Fear spreads like wildfire, and if a CEO is nervous about missing a project deadline or threatening underlings, his negative energy rolls downhill and can impact the entire company even if there is no actual problem. It’s no surprise that what most leaders are afraid of is looking weak or incompetent, so remember: a little humility buys you a lot of goodwill with your subordinates.
It’s the little things.
If you ever notice the quiet when you step into the office and the only ambient sound is the ringing of an unanswered phone—chances are you’ve got a problem. Sure, people are formal when you visit with them, but you can’t help noticing the distinct lack of camaraderie. Sometimes, it’s not even a problem with the office but instead the exterior stresses of everyday life. Though
everyone should leave their personal problems at home and act professionally in the workplace, we are all human, and sometimes we just can’t escape that cloud hanging over our heads. The last thing anyone needs in such a situation is more stress, so take the lead and make sure your employees know you care. Whether it’s a smile, a joke, some free food or a friendly compliment, a little kindness can brighten everyone’s day.
A thriving office culture sees an explosion of fresh ideas, spit-balling, and fearless putting-yourself-out-there for debate. If your employees only speak when spoken to, it’s probably because they’ve been trained to bite their tongue. They feel their ideas are not respected, and rather than get chewed out, reprimanded, or made fun of; they prefer to let you do all the talking and simply nod and smile as if they agree. Don’t be that boss. If you’re unsure of what to do, skip the bluster and just ask for some fresh ideas—and when your staff obliges you, treat them with respect they deserve even if their ideas are underwhelming.
By the book
Another obvious sign of toxicity is a strict adherence to rules (especially the arbitrary kind) instead of situational judgment. Rules, as they say, are made to be broken. If your staff are penalized and called out for every minor infraction it will discourage out-of-the-box thinking and stifle innovation. Naturally, enforcement of law and common-sense should always come first on hot-button issues such as sexual harassment or discrimination, but make sure that the punishment fits the crime and always encourage your staff to embrace failure and rise above it.
More punishment than reward
One of the more common problems in office cultures, especially when everyone is stressed out by deadlines, is to focus on everything that employees do wrong rather than what they do right. It’sonly human nature to remember and notice that which is abnormal, disgusting, unusual, frustrating, and so on. We fixate on it and can’t help but call attention to it, especially when a co-worker makes a mistake that you must then take responsibility. This isn’t to say that you should just ignore all errors or that you should hand out participation awards to everyone regardless of the competency of their work—just make sure that you spend at least as much time complimenting your staff for their merits as you do criticize them for their mistakes.
Maybe you looked the other way when you noticed something inappropriate, or perhaps everyone just ignores company newsletters, and the office grapevine is the only way information gets around. Whatever the reason for this toxic brew, it’s always better to be open and honest with your co-workers and weed out corrosive or judgmental staff who are just incompatible. Of course, you’ll never be able to stop gossip, and you shouldn’t try to, but make sure that truth is respected and rewarded in your office—even when it hurts.
In summary, a toxic culture is usually the product of one or more subtle problems that merely go unchecked for an extended period. Like a leaky pipe, eventually the corrosion and rust will eat away at it until it bursts—and then it’s just too late to fix.
AI is a toolbox that provides options, but the defining attributes of cost-effectiveness depend on dozens of factors outlined below.
The short answer is that the most efficient use of AI, with current and near-future tech under consideration, is to supplement human labor with automation rather than to replace it. To take advantage of the increased proficiency and accuracy that machines offer, in predictable environments balanced with the common sense and experience of a skilled human counterpart.
An analysis of the best deep-think machine learning algorithms used, for example, by Google’s AlphaGo in their contest against Go champion Lee Sedol resulted in a 4-1 victory for Google. It was an impressive feat, but the fact remains that many of the matches were extremely close, Sedol still won a game, and commentators agree that the machine made several critical mistakes in virtually all of the games, errors that no human would likely make.
AI will undoubtedly revolutionize the modern workforce and shift the focus of human labor, but it is unlikely to eliminate very many jobs.
The Potential for Automation
Though difficult to quantify exactly how advanced today’s AI is and who leads the field, there are numerous examples currently in practice for companies such as Netflix, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and of course NASA that are nothing short of amazing.
Amazon’s online algorithms not only guesstimate what products users might be interested in based on their history and other data vectors, but it is also exceptionally skilled at buying and selling products based on marginalized profits that continually leave Amazon on the cutting edge of retail sales. Their use of Kiva robots is also revolutionizing the way Amazon’s warehouses operate and is a perfect example of how automation best fits into the workplace.
Kiva robots move and organize inventory around in the store, bringing everything directly to the human labor force who are reserved for the filling and packaging of orders. People ensure accurate fulfillment, adequate insulation or padding, and determine the appropriate box size for shipments containing multiple items. This decision-making involves experience and human perception that ‘s hard for robots to perform even in the predictable environment of a warehouse.
The potential for automation is therefore limited by the cost of automation versus technological feasibility, the scarcity of (skilled) labor, performance, regulatory compliance, and even social acceptance. For obvious reasons, AI pushes hardest down the path of least resistance in automation tasks achieved primarily through software.
Costs VS Feasibility
The more predictable the environment and predictable nature of the work, the better and cheaper automation will be. An analysis of dozens of labor activities (rather than occupations) by McKinsey & Company shows that highest potential for automation exists in the finance industry where bookkeepers, Wall Street traders, and mortgage bankers spend up to 90% of their time processing data.
It is this middle-of-the-road between the costly overhead of human labor and technical feasibility that automation shines by simplifying complex data into a streamlined output for human convenience, often in the form of infographics. There is also substantial room for improvement in insurance, transportation, food service, accommodation, manufacturing, and with the advent of IBM’s Watson, even healthcare automation is feasible.
In each case, existing automation technology improves efficiency and performance in the reading and processing of bulk data with NLP and NLG, reduces human error, monitors employee stress and performance, and calculates optimal logistics (with or without self-driving cars). Even individuals whose salary exceeds $200k per year still spend up to 50% of their time filling out forms, reading and responding to e-mail, and other tasks.
Watson: A Case Example
It’s no secret that in the United States the healthcare industry lacks sufficient medical personnel to meet the burden of demand. Watson, which uses machine learning to read scientific journals and articles, processes data into extensive Q&A sessions where experts from a variety of technical fields refine Watson’s understanding. The result is an extensive, comprehensive database that allows hospitals to run comparative searches for symptoms, improving efficiency and accuracy of diagnosis and treatment options.
Watson is fundamentally changing the managerial structure of hospitals where the chief physician manages a handful of doctors, who manage numerous assistants, who manage even more nurses, all of which are advised by Watson and ultimately supervised by the chief physician. The result is that smaller number of doctors can treat a larger number of patients, saving money and improving care without negatively impacting the job market.
Compliance and Social Acceptance
Social acceptance cannot be ignored. In settings such as healthcare, patients expect human contact and may be distrustful of machines that they can’t directly interact with. Doctors are all too aware of the damage fear and doubt can cause when a patient is unsure that their diagnosis or treatment is accurate. Trust is like a placebo, one that influences success rates and the ultimate cost of care and insurance premiums.
Many countries also have laws regarding what jobs humans and robots can or can’t perform. Naturally, dangerous jobs such as disarming bombs or cleaning up toxic spills and waste lean toward automated or at least remote-controlled machines, but a human pharmacist still needs to sign off on your newest prescriptions.
Though AI provides a supplemental answer to the skills void, it is the abstract nature of human reasoning that machines just cannot duplicate. With time, automation technology will continue to improve and offer a wider range of options, particularly in unpredictable labor environments like construction and agriculture, but it is unlikely that they will ever eliminate human decision-making entirely.
Many of the clients that our team at SunSoft works with to connect them to the best professionals tend to be startups and many of the professionals who come to us to help them locate a job profile that suits their aptitude and qualification tend to seek employment with startups too actively. Having closely worked with both sides of the value chain for some time now, we have realized that the startup environment requires a particular set of traits to succeed, which goes beyond qualification, hard work, and dedication.
We thought it would be a good idea to list some of the most important of these traits; this would not only help anyone seeking employment with a startup to manage their expectations more realistically, provide a guideline to strategize their career growth better once they do begin working with a startup. Some of these points would also be useful to professionals who have already been part of a startup culture for some time now.
1. Do your homework – This one’s a tip for the interview stage. While carefully studying the company you are interviewing with and being conscious of its products, value proposition and strategy is a necessary aspect of any interview process, it becomes even more crucial when talking with a startup. Expressing (genuine) passion for the startup’s product or service, having a clear idea of how you can help build the founders’ vision into reality and developing an understanding of that firm’s culture can go a long way in convincing your interviewers that you are a good fit for the firm.
2. Learn to embrace ambiguity – Through most of one’s educational and professional career, one gets used to well-defined roles, where responsibilities are clear and deliverables stated. Startups seldom work within such defined boundaries. Being willing to embrace ambiguity means that you can quickly adapt to changing requirements from your team or your customer, without it causing any undue friction in your performance.
3. Take ownership – Work in startups typically involves small teams where hand-holding is impossible. You need to learn to swim at the deep end of the pool, look at things from the perspective of our founders and senior management, and work more smartly to add value to the team’s performance as a whole.
4. Be a problem solver – It’s great to be able to identify issues, of which there are going to be a lot of in a startup that’s finding its feet. But, it’s more useful if you can come up with solutions to these issues too. When you can let the company founder know that you found five things that needed improvement and were able to fix them, that’s a compelling way to earn trust. And, well, it’s empowering too – there’s very little that can boost your confidence the way getting a job done that others had overlooked can.
5. Roll up your sleeves – In a small team, you don’t have the luxury of separate members identified for every function. Your firm might not have an HR team to manage recruitment or sufficient support staff to book air tickets for your boss on his next trip. Being great at your job is essential, but what makes you valuable is that you are more concerned with things getting done, not so much with who does them.
6. Develop comfort with mistakes – It’s obvious by now that if you are working in an ambiguous environment, taking up significant responsibilities and even volunteering for jobs that you aren’t specifically hired for, there will be mistakes. Many of them. The problem is not in making mistakes, as long as you are willing to learn from them; the problem is if these scare you enough not to try anything outside your comfort zone in the future.
7. Communicate – This is a particularly necessary trait for a startup. To stay in sync with the requirements of your boss and the rest of the team, to get feedback on your performance, to learn from others and just to develop that camaraderie that keeps you going through thick and thin, there is no better way than to maintain regular communication. And this includes not just regular interaction in the office, but also trying to involve yourself with the occasional evening drinks that your office-mates might get together. Nothing brings a team together more firmly than cribbing about that painful client over a few pints of beer!
8. Find balance – You will typically be working longer, or at least more irregular, hours at a startup. And, given the responsibility per employee, any sick day will probably hurt your startup employer a lot more than if you were working with a huge firm. It becomes even more necessary, then, to find the right work-life balance to prevent a burnout and maintain your health. Try to spend some time every day in an activity of interest outside your work, indulge in some exercise if you have a sedentary job, just walk to that salad place a couple of blocks away for lunch instead of having another burger at your desk.
9. Know when to say no – Taking up responsibilities is nice, knowing what you cannot do is better. Not everyone is built for every job, and even if you are one of those jacks of all trades who can get everything done, there is a limit to how much you can put on your plate without losing focus. If work starts piling up beyond control, be confident enough to say no. Similarly, if everyone else is staying back in the office beyond 7-8 pm, but you know that you have worked efficiently through the day and need a break, develop the confidence to leave. A negative attitude is bad; the ability to say no when you are faced with your boundaries is intelligent.
10. Get paid for your work – No matter how passionate you are about the work you are doing, if you feel that you are not being paid enough for your effort, your interest will gradually waver. Startups can’t always match the pay you might get at an established firm in terms of money, but it should be in tune to some extent with industry standards. Plus, they do have the flexibility to offer perks, like working from home or paid leaves, which are tailored to your needs. If you have a concern about your remuneration, feel confident to bring it up politely with your boss.
The era of the intelligent enterprise is up upon us. Organizations of all sizes and industry verticals are investing in a range of latest and greatest technologies. IT professionals driving this digital disruption can expect unprecedented career and business opportunities across the technology industry. Here’s our pick for some of the hottest technologies and their use cases in the current age of digitization:
• Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Skills to leverage advanced computing capabilities in the AI/ML segment will remain in demand as new these areas drive next-generation technology offerings.
• Robotics: Automation across manufacturing as well as consumer segments such as driving.
• Virtual Reality: Particularly in the section of entertainment and video games.
• 3-D Printing: This area will continue to influence manufacturing, architecture, civil and mechanical engineering segment.
• Natural Language Processing, Speech and Pattern Recognition: Social media channels are the treasure trove for organizations looking to learn more about their customers and market. These technologies will enable businesses to yield invaluable insights from Internet-driven Big Data.
• “Anything as a service”: The cloud-enabled services model presents unique advantages for organizations pursuing appropriate services without having to invest resources as CapEx.
• Cyber Security: Security threats continue to evolve, and demands for advanced cyber security skills will remain critical to the enterprise world.
With record high job openings in the US, the hiring climate looks good for job seekers. Brand new technologies that are growing are opening brand new employment opportunities. US industries need a variety of technology skills, and each of those skills has different entry requirements, leading to the opportunity for people looking to change careers or those looking to advance in their current technology careers.
Another research report published by the freelancer marketplace Upwork tracked the global demand for IT skills and found Artificial Intelligence among the most sought after. Other popular choices included several skills within the QA and project management market segment.
As Deloitte research identifies, it is important to note that high profile software design projects that have consistently maintained high skills demand throughout the year 2017 share one fundamental philosophy: A solid foundation in agile, continuous and collaborative processes regardless of the technology area. Ability to embrace this philosophy as an individual and a collective team will continue to prove critical in successful project execution.