The new digital economy: remaining everfresh (Part 3)
Karolyn Hart / April 17, 2013
The new digital economy poses a new challenge for our future workforce. How does one teach something that does not yet exist? By the time students graduate from school there will be new jobs and demands for technologies that have yet to be invented. What is required is a fundamental shift in how education is approached. We now live in an age where in order to compete professionals must be ever fresh and to do so means that “continuous learning” is no longer optional and has quickly become “forever learning”.
Consider marketing as an example. There was a time where agencies could pitch an entire campaign to an organization and win them as a client based on what they presented. Relatively speaking, back then it was “simple.” There were three channels (radio, print, TV) and the brand controlled the consumers view of them.
Today, agencies are selected on their strategic approaches and must prove to the client their ability to “keep up” with ever-changing technologies. They must also show the client how they will influence the consumers who now can make or break a brand’s reputation. An entire industry has been transformed in lightning speed and along with it new jobs have been created. Consider that digital strategists, social media managers, and chief digital officers are all new positions that did not exist a little over a decade ago but are in high demand today.
So what does the future hold? In 2008 I had the privilege of working with a progressive technology company. At that time we were looking at Near Field Communications (NFC) and Augmented Reality (AR) to determine how we could implement them to resolve consumer driven demands.
These technologies have gained significant capacity over the last five years. What could they hold for future positions? In the case of NFC (which is a technology that allows devices to wirelessly communicate with one another when they are in close proximity) I can imagine a “Near Field Communications Logistics Coordinator” being created in manufacturing industries to determine how to use NFC in streamlining logistics and following parts. It’s already being done in certain companies but a natural maturation of the technology will eventually produce a unique expertise that will come into demand.
For now, NFC is largely getting press for how it is being integrated with our smartphones. The technology has yet to be standardized, but when it does expect to see a set of new ”NFC Certified” developers, system integrators, and technology providers popping up.
For those creative types, Augmented Reality (AR) has to be one of the most exciting developments. Simply put, AR is the ability to hold up your mobile device and an overlay appears with imagery or information.
AR is being used to create interactive experiences in museums, provide detailed directions for subway users, and in China they are taking open spaces and turning them into virtual supermarkets where you can shop.
AR technology is now starting to reach maturity. In cyberland, tech heads are salivating over the announcement of “Google Glass.” Google’s investment in this is sure to be the tipping point that makes even your grandmother know what AR means in the near future.
What sort of jobs will this new technology spring forth? They’ve already arrived but will continue to grow. The list of job titles that captured my attention includes: mixed reality solutions consultant, AR software engineer, and virtual camera path recorder. I would expect to see future positions such as AR overlay designers, virtual shopping developers, and pathway developers.
While it is fun to consider what the future holds it can also be daunting for the student trying to figure out a future career or the professional trying to stay on top of the latest trends. Here’s a few tips on how to ensure you remain ever fresh:
- Complete the training. Just because the technology being studied today may be outdated by the time a student graduates does not mean the time is wasted. Understanding the evolution of technology and where it comes from assists in providing a solid foundation and depth of knowledge on how and why things function the way they do.
- Become efficient at studying. The time spent in school studying teaches the habit of constantly seeking knowledge. In the future, the approach to seeking knowledge and learning will be the difference between those who succeed and those who are left behind.
- Seek the trends. Not only does learning the latest trends help give you a competitive edge but it also provides clues on what will gain maturity in the future and what is on its way out.