Baby boomers are supposedly between 49 and 67 years old and spent some to most of their careers pre-Internet, pre-cell phone, pre-social, -cloud and -mobile…certainly pre-user-friendly analytics and big data.
In many cases, we have a population still able (and needing) to work that doesn’t have the skills to compete in the marketplace unless they’ve made a concerted effort to stay current. Worse, some were ‘riding it out’ until their company was hit by the recent downturn and they found themselves on the outside of increasing technology looking in.
It doesn’t stop with age. If you grew up without the tools being used by the average 5-year old, you’re just as far behind. As Marc Andreessen in Why Software is Eating the World argues, everything is becoming software as “…companies use Internet-style applications to transform other industries.” The biggest companies are run on software and not human labor and that makes for a skills gap the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Even small to mid-sized industries that aren’t run on software soon will be with even more impact on the job market.
Adding to the problem, communication cycles are hyper-fast and some simply can’t follow along at full speed.
Defeating the monster
So what can people do to stave off being eaten by software? For us, it was taking up writing. Each blog reflects research and a chance to form an opinion and take a position. The dream may have been to write for a living but in the process, we learned for a living instead. So far, so good.
Not only did this bring new skills, but an opportunity to create relevance and bring the most interesting people into our orbit. We’ve become connected and conversant on far more topics while going deep in a few. The benefits have been very tangible and even surprising and we feel this is an excellent hedge against what Jon Evans predicts somewhat darkly yesterday in TechCrunch:
Self-driving cars are a striking example of software eating jobs, but far from the only one. Almost every job, in every field, probably including yours, will increasingly be threatened by obsolescence and/or automation. That’s a simple and inevitable corollary of software eating the world and the concomitant increasing rate of change. As that rate accelerates, technology will soon start destroying jobs faster than it creates them…if it isn’t already.
The way to not be crushed under the wheels of technology is to be steering the wheels of technology. But first you have to find the ladder to the cockpit.