We get very comfortable with our job as well as the company we work for.It only natural that we get comfortable over time. We also get increasingly confident in our abilites and ability to get through tough times. That can be an asset up to a point, the point to where we ignore or misinterpret trends. Even if we see macrotrends like AI, robotics and automation reshaping the economy we’re take a look to see how the impacts will ripple their way to us. The technological changes that are driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution are so widespread that they are sure to directly or indirectly impact virtually every industry. The question for you is: How can I take advantage of the trends or at least not be run over by them?

Understand the Lay of the Land

The first step is to identify the changes that are happening and how they might impact your industry, your company and your job.  The impacts might directly impact your work if you have to learn a new technology, but it may also indirectly impact your work by affecting your company’s competitiveness. An example of the latter would be if you are a sales clerk at Walmart but block chain, driverless delivery trucks could impact the company’s supply chain and profitability. A truck driver would directly be impacted and the sales clerk indirectly.

There are far too many new, potentially pathbreaking technologies to list them all.  Here are a few of them and some of the areas they can impact. Use these examples to consider how they may impact you and your work, directly and indirectly.

Artificial Intelligence: Assist with research and analysis (legal, medical, etc.), decision making, situational assessments.

Blockchain: identification and authentication, supply chain and chain of custody, cybersecurity, finance, internet of things, smart devices, transaction recording and auditing

Drones: Access to remote or difficult to get to areas, lifesaving, safety, photography

Virtual Reality: Simulations for training, assessing skills (technical and interpersonal), remote or pre-construction real estate walk throughs

Augmented reality/Mixed reality: retails sales

New Materials: Graphene is an example, stronger, lighter, cheaper building materials for any use from air travel to buildings to personal devices, even concrete

Robotics/Exoskeltons: Automate routine tasks, perform dangerous tasks or provide additional support to humans to prevent injury

Life Sciences: Radical extension of life an it’s quality, cure of disease and disorders.

Each of these new technologies alone can result in significant changes in their industry. What makes them revolution is both the large number of breakthrough technologies happening at once and their ability to be combined across functions and industries to magnify their impact.

Line of Sight

Even without an industrial revolution most employees struggle with understanding how their specific work flows to make a difference for the company. Even more so they fail to see how their personal vision and goals are aligned with the company’s vision beyond a paycheck and profits.

If you’re a business leader or executive you need to understand this landscape, the impacts on your business and your employees. Where are tomorrow’s advantages and threats coming from? Which employees are most vulnerable to the change? Can you do something to retool them to take advantage of the opportunities that will benefit both the company and them employee? If not, can you share information about what’s happening, so they can prepare for the changes ahead?

If you’re an employee, it is in your interest to learn and figure this out. Your employer may or may not be sharing industry insights. No matter what you need to understand what’s happening in the greater business world, so you can adapt, stay relevant and capitalize on the new opportunities that are coming. If you don’t know or understand the technology you won’t be able to make use of it and could find yourself unemployed as a result.

How to keep up?

Of course you can follow the technology news, industry association publications and do your own research. However, it’s difficult to keep up with all of the developments yourself. Companies have entire teams across functions that follow industry trends, competitors, new technologies and so on. To bring that advantage to you I created open Facebook Community at www.futureproofingyou.com, where member share news, discuss the implications of these developments and share any concerns.  No one person can do all of this, but together we can help each other secure a better, more secure future.

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About the Author

Larry Boyer, CBE, ACC helps people and businesses prepare for the changing and evolving economy of the 21st Century. As a recognized leader in advanced analytics, finance & economics, future technologies and personal development he speaks, writes and consults on these topics and their impacts on businesses and people. His book The Robot In the Next Cubicle: What You Need to Know to Adapt and Succeed in the Automation Age is available for preorder.

Join me for a special webinar on July 10th at 12pm Eastern "How to Build Your Brand in the Age of Artificial Intelligence