We have entered a new decade.
In order to develop the edge in this high speed computer age, we need better, faster information, and more productivity. With this new wave of speed, however, we’re seeing Bay Area process serversthe other side of the coin as well. Many industries are downsizing for profitability goals, or out-sourcing totally. There is probably no chance of seeing those same positions returning.
So what’s happening and why?
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Andy Kessler discusses the heavy regulatory burdens, payroll taxes, and health care costs that are now taking place in the economy. This is causing large and small businesses alike to look for new ways to save money.
One area, for example, happens to be where I live; the San Francisco Bay Area. The Golden Gate Bridge is now announcing layoffs and relying solely on wireless fast-track payments and license plate snapshots. They plan to do away with human toll takers, feeling this will save a huge amount of money. Perhaps it will, but it comes with another cost.
The article went on to state that technology is eating all sorts of other jobs, and not just “toll taker” positions. Bank tellers, phone operators, stock brokers and traders, travel agents, librarians, etc. are all in danger of becoming obsolete. All are positions which have traditionally required a warm human body with a brain.
Kessler goes on to divide types of workers that now make up this economy as the creators and the servers. The creators are ones like engineers that write computer codes, create computer chips and search engines, those who create pharmaceuticals, etc. Products that drive our every day life as we know it.
On the other hand, the “servers” are those that service the “creators.” The provision of food, building of their homes, vehicles, etc. and giving legal advice or a providing a service, (such as the department of motor vehicles) is done for the creators by the servers. The bottom line is that many of these “servers” are going to be outsourced by computers that operate machines. The rationale is that the new business environment will become extremely efficient, therefore able to compete successfully in this global economy.
Servers also come in different categories and sub categories. One type of server is what’s called the “lower skilled” worker that moves items from here to there. Many of these positions are held by government workers that scuffle information from one side of the counter to the other without adding any value. Unfortunately for this type of workers, those positions now can be easily replaced with computer codes.
Another category of the server would be those job titles that are earned by passing a state licensing exam. According to the WSJ, 23% of U.S. workers are required to pass a state license exam. These can include Stock Brokers, Real Estate Brokers and Agents, Mortgage Brokers, Doctors, Lawyers, Contractors of all types, Cosmetologists, and on and on. We now have e-Discovery software which can scan documents catching keywords and phrases, which is able to displace lawyers and paralegals.
Doctors have been affected as well. Now, there is computer imaging that provides computer aided diagnosis to spot disease patterns in an x-ray. This is much more cost effect than a having a medical staff. The article goes on to say it looks like no one is safe, except for maybe the barbers. Most people will always need a haircut of some kind.
Of course, sinks are always going to clog and houses will need up-keep and repairs of all kinds… this will protect some contractors. I can’t help but think that since we had “robo-signing” in the mortgage business (that caused such problems with the foreclosure process,) why wouldn’t e-scan be used to make the process more efficient and thus cheaper… but then what about the Mortgage Brokers and loan officers?
Kessler’s article is summarized by saying that we live in a dynamic economy, and that those positions that may be outsourced due to computers will like-wise be replaced by the next economic cycle. It has happened before and it will happen again. The horse and buggy phased out the automobile.
What’s to be done then, for us humans, especially those in our 40’s 50’s and beyond, who chose an occupation, became educated with a certain skill set, who then realize we will probably be outsourced by a computer soon if not already?
Innovation is the name of the game. Taking what you know and adapting to the bold, new frontier is key. No matter what your background, you know more than you think you do. Make a list of those skills you already have. Then ask yourself how those skills can be re-vamped and applied in another area… online, for instance. Starting an Internet business is a great way to innovate.