As business owners, we know we live in tremulous times. New industries – such as cryptocurrency – are being created overnight. Jobs are disappearing. Companies are switching industries. Tech companies continue to push the boundaries of automation through deep learning and artificial intelligence.
As modern technology pushes forward into our traditional businesses, the question for many of us is, how prepared are our businesses for the future?
Machines Are Taking Over
Businesses that fail to adapt won’t stand a chance in today’s fast-changing industry. People are now being replaced by robotics and automation for quite a number of reasons. People can only do one task at a time. They get distracted, make mistakes, and buckle under pressure; machines rarely make mistakes, they don’t take breaks, and are incredibly efficient at multi-tasking.
Technology enabled businesses to grow faster than ever, and it only gets better with time. As people put more resources in technology, production costs go down, giving more room to invest in better technologies. Back then, long distance phone calls cost 25 cents per minute or around 2 dollars overseas. Nowadays, we can talk to someone from half a world away through the internet for just a fraction of the cost. (Imagine what this would do to traditional phone industry.)
Soon, nearly every task will be automated. This implies two things: first, most manual jobs that don’t require critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity are in danger of being taken away by automation. Industries will continue to downsize and low-paying jobs might soon be gone. White-collar jobs aren’t safe from the onslaught of automation. Neural networks might soon replace analysts, accountants, and personal assistants, as A.I. and deep learning continues to evolve.
Second, companies that rely on traditional methods could soon go out of business, unless they keep up with the times and stay relevant with modern-day customers. Amazon and online shopping will always be a threat to traditional retail businesses, and telecom companies are in dire need of a solution against the growing popularity of internet calls.
Uber and Airbnb have redefined travel and accommodation, challenging long-established companies within the industry. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is a growing threat to our financial sector with its permissionless, secure, peer-to-peer payment system. Innovation is no longer just an option for a lot of businesses. As a matter of fact, it’s the only way for businesses to survive in this day and age.
Fortunately, some jobs are more resilient than others, particularly those that have to do with complex human emotions. So-called soft skills and out-of-the-box thinking will be more important than ever for businesses.
The World Has Changed, and So Will be Our Businesses
History is littered with the remains of old industries that fell out of use as better technologies emerge. You’d be lucky to find relics of the past in people’s attics like the portable cassette player, VHS, film camera, and encyclopaedias. Yet they remind us of the bygone era when they became a booming business in the late 80s and 90s.
Fast-forward to the present, people do things a lot differently. We spend more time on the Internet and consume online content more than from traditional media. Over 2 billion people connect with each other using handheld gadgets many times faster and more powerful than the NASA computers of the first moon landing. Our world today is vastly different, and so will be our businesses.
Businesses have evolved over the years alongside modern technology. Sooner or later, they’d have to come up with something fresh, something which has never been tried before. It could take the form of a much better technology, a new concept, a better strategy, or a business opportunity. Who knows what the next disruption will be?
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