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Phoenix Forward

5 ways technology will alter the workforce

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Technology changes rapidly — and workers must adapt just as quickly, enhancing their job skills if they wish to remain employable. This means that workers must embrace change and adapt their skills, not only to keep up with technology's evolution, but also to integrate the new technology into a more complex, multifaceted approach to work, according to Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, PhD, author of the upcoming book, Society 3.0: How Technology Is Reshaping Education, Work, and Society.

"Society has adopted mobility, social technologies, and multimedia," says Wilen-Daugenti, who is also Apollo Research InstituteSM vice president and managing director. As a result of these changes, she notes, employers now expect "a seamless convergence of the related skills" that people have learned outside the workforce, and they expect people to apply these new skills to their daily job responsibilities. She predicts that people can expect the following technology-driven changes to affect their working futures:

1. Data analysis will become more complex.

Mobile devices, social technologies, the cloud, and networking software and hardware will continue to exponentially increase the data available to businesses. Data can now be analyzed to improve customer relationships and product development and to save overhead costs, ultimately improving efficiency, Wilen-Daugenti says. Employees will need to move beyond basic statistical analysis to accurately interpret the reams of computed output and also will need to apply a wider range of technical knowledge to better connect the data dots, she adds.

2. It will take less money, time and space to start a new business.

Technology has become easier, cheaper and more mainstream in recent years. This is good news for future small business owners who can reduce their start-up investments by basically launching a business from a mobile, smart device. "Computing is simplifying," Wilen-Daugenti observes. "Storage, PC virtualization — it's all condensed so much that a small-business owner can realistically run a business from a backpack."

3. Automation will promote talent shortages.

"Smart cars and smart applications will continue to require smart people to create, build and operate both hardware and software automation," Wilen-Daugenti says. Automation may steal some jobs, she acknowledges, but new jobs requiring new skill sets will be created, and workers need to be ready for them.

4. Businesses will standardize customers' use of crossbred technologies.

Mobile devices and connectivity go beyond smartphone capabilities and, as this year's Consumer Electronics Show proved, will evolve to include the latest crossbred technologies, such as 3-D capabilities, multiple-device social-network integration and audio convergence. "Standardizing in an enterprise will become increasingly difficult to manage," Wilen-Daugenti says. She predicts that customers will want to use a variety of brands and features, prompting businesses to come up with standardization solutions.

5. People will collaborate more and more via the cloud.

 Online collaboration and cloud interactions are now pervasive, and that's not going to change. "This idea of social collaboration will filter into the workplace — and has already," Wilen-Daugenti says. The cloud is personal and easy to use, she notes, and it's a lower cost option for small business. "We can expect an increase in related applications and devices that connect to each other in this way."

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