Every business has to deal with one constant – changes in its operating environment due to technology. Businesses have to adopt it to stay competitive while its staff and professionals have to adapt to its influence. This has always been the case, but quite rapid in the past two decades due to the strides in technology.
Executive Assistant is a popular example to understand this phenomenon. This is the position that has probably seen radical changes from being the most important person of the boss to a more passive facilitator and organizer. Reasons – technology taking ‘mail’ to ‘email’, ‘calendar’ to ‘e-calendar’, ‘office’ to ‘e-office’ and pushing ‘meeting’ to ‘e-meeting’ as well as ‘video conferences’ and bringing the work more closer to the boss. The devices are getting smarter, interconnected, cheaper and complex, thus putting pressure on the executive assistants to stay relevant every time. Apple’s personal assistant ‘Siri’ on iPhone is another new trend of products coming up, which further adds to the misery of an executive assistant as the boss can now tell “Siri” what he/she wants, and can get it instantly done rather than asking a person and get it later.
Another classic example of a changing job is Bank Teller. Bank accounts are getting more and more sophisticated by the day. Technology has transferred the power to do basic things like withdrawal, transfer, deposits, statements, etc. to the customer via ATM and PC Branches. As a result, having a person to do the Teller’s role is costly for the bank. At the same time, having technology brings in customers with a lot of questions and clarifications. There is often a need for customer service representatives in the branch as well as a 24 X 7 back office support because the banking is no longer a 9AM to 5PM task. People can access technology round the clock, and can get their jobs done. The customer service representatives cannot afford to work without mastering and understanding the business processes and products driven by technology.
The above two examples are from very different industries. We can see vast changes in the jobs landscape over the past two decades. To put it in short, technology has made a lot of tasks more structured by reducing the required people skills to get it done, and in turn, has shifted focus on how people can use the technology to being more productive. This has killed many professions and created many new ones centered on doing business using technology. To summarize, there is a constant pressure on professionals to not only meet the expectations of their daily job, but also to stay ahead of the industry trends and be relevant as well as be employable. This is also an important factor in the consistent high unemployment across the US as well as other industrialized nations. Millions of jobs have been shed worldwide after the burst of the housing bubble in the US in 2008 followed by the financial crisis as well as the Sovereign debt crisis in Europe post 2011 – most of which will never be back again. Unlike in the past downturns, we are at the peak of technology adoption and migration to technology-driven business processes. This means that there is a need for strategic change for professionals to stay relevant in their job and be valuable to the organization.
As a result of technology penetration, there are three major industry phenomena that can be studied. The first phenomenon is about the factors that business considers incorporating technology and the associated profit expectations from that investment. The second is the way it impacts roles and responsibilities in an organization and how it gives opportunity for people to be more productive, often reducing the people dependence of a job. This has to be studied on an industry neutral abstract framework. The third is about the organizational challenge in software design architecture and technology framework itself – whether there is efficiency in how the technology is adopted, developed and managed at optimal cost.