Planned Obsolescence is another business concept that you need to think about when developing your career strategy. When considering your career development trajectory in the rapidly changing, technological world of the 21st Century skills obsolescence is an issue workers of all ages and types need to consider from both the employer and employee perspectives. As the owner of You, Inc. this is an issue you need to be aware of and plan for.  

According to The Economist, Planned obsolescence  "is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete—that is, unfashionable or no longer usable) of a product is planned and built into it from its conception."

Strictly speaking, planned obsolescence refers to the development of a product so that the purchaser or user almost certainly must buy a new and improved version at a later time. This process keeps customers coming back for more, creating a relatively stable revenue stream based on existing customers rather than relying on finding new customers. This is exactly what you want employers to do with you – keep coming back to you every time there is a technological change. You don't want them to switch products, that is, lay you off and hire someone else to replace you. 

When working with planned obsolescence there are two views that are critical to understand – the view of the customer about the product and the view of the business selling the product. When considering the Business of You the customers are the employers and as CEO of You, Inc. you are the producer and seller of your services. 

The Employee View and The Product of You

The 21st Century labor market is rapidly changing. Today's leading edge technology you've mastered is irrelevant in just a few years. Then what? As the owner of the Business of You, you need to be plan for your skills to become less valuable over time and eventually obsolete. You need to make investments to keep your skills relevant in an evolving world.

As you mature in the workplace you also need to be aware of your cost competitiveness as new workers enter the labor forces with the latest tools and technology already mastered and willing to work at a lower salary than a more experienced worker. In an age of rapid technological change and in a profession that demands keeping up with the latest technology and innovations the importance of years of experience for carrying out the technical work diminishes. Understanding how to leverage past experience with new technologies becomes paramount.  

Consumer View – The Employer

Businesses are continually evolving to meet the needs of their customers. As new technology is introduced businesses are able to supply more information, higher quality information and superior products. Big Data and Advanced Analytics are providing greater insight into customer preferences. New product introduction, such as the iPad, is disrupting entire industries. Each of the disruptive technologies requires people with new skills to utilize them. Business are faced with the choice of retaining and retraining existing staff or laying off current staff and replacing them with staff who already have mastered the technology.  

For more experienced workers who have invested many years of training and work using one technology are especially vulnerable to a shift. When a new technology is developed, experiences counts for little, leveling the playing field between more experienced workers and less experienced workers. Depending on the nature of the work this can also lead to a pay disparity between the more experienced worker and the newer one. If the value of experience is diminished should a company higher someone who is more or less expensive? 

Key Message

Regardless of which perspective you look at, the skills that you have are depreciating faster than ever. As your career progresses you become increasingly vulnerable to a technological change. As a result you need to include in your Career Strategic Plan a continuous learning and development element that keeps your skills current. If you fail to do this, The Business of You risks losing its work and heading for bankruptcy. Now is the time to start planning.