Do you wonder how the rapid advancement of technology might affect future operations at your small business? Thinking about how far technology has progressed sends many small business owners into a panic, and can leave you wondering how you’ll ever be able to keep up in 10 or 20 years.
Perhaps these fears aren’t totally unfounded either. In 2014, a report was released showing the average six-year-old understood more about digital technology than a 45-year-old adult. The report cites the introduction of broadband internet in the year 2000 as a turning point for the digital age. Children who were born after this time grew up with an unprecedented access to the online world and were raised with technology in their home lives, as well as using technological tools in their education.
In the past month alone, brand giants Disney and Apple have received media attention for their commitment to increasing coding skills in children — a skill about which many adults fail to grasp even the most fundamental understanding.
So what can business owners expect when these children become active members of the workforce, and what will the new technology accompanying them change? A report was published earlier this year by the CSIRO in partnership with ACS, BCG the Australian Government and ANZ about the future digitally enabled workforce. This report established a set of six deep-set trajectories for change in the Australian workforce based on digital trends.
1. The second half of the chessboard
The first of these trajectories was named ‘the second half of the chessboard’. This trajectory explained how device connectivity, data volumes and computing speed are increasing at an exponential, not linear, rate. This rapid rate of growth means humans will be able to program more robotic devices able to outperform the abilities of man. This growth of intelligent, capable machines and technological capabilities in humans will alter supply chains and make many jobs in the current world redundant.
2. Porous boundaries
The second of these trajectories, ‘porous boundaries’, explains how technology will change the nature of employment markets and organisational structures. The report predicts how Australia will assume a ‘peer-to-peer’ (P2P) economy popular in other countries. Technological advancement may also prompt businesses to assume staffing models where core staff is minimal, and freelancers or working communities assume a large portion of the work. According to the report, jobs of the future are likely to be more flexible, agile, networked and connected.
3. The era of the entrepreneur
According to the report, the technological changes will mean jobs within large businesses may not be readily available to future jobseekers. The report suggests jobseekers will need to create their own jobs, meaning entrepreneurial abilities will be extremely valuable. With more micro businesses and small businesses in the market, there will be a greater power for small businesses in the economy.
4. Divergent demographics
With an ageing population, and an increasing life expectancy, the report suggests average retirement ages will inevitably be pushed back in the future Australian economy. The report also forecasts that coupled with the rich technological understandings of the younger generation, workforces will have diverse age groups working together in industries and businesses.
5. The rising bar
With an increased use of digital technology in the workplace, technology is forecasted to replace many entry-level jobs with no qualification requirements. The forecasted consequence of this change is a raised skills and education bar for entry into many professions and occupations
6. Tangible intangibles
The last trajectory refers to what the report calls ‘tangible intangibles’. With a growing amount of automation in the workforce, jobs in service industries requiring high social skills and emotional intelligence will become increasingly important. These abilities are the ‘tangible intangibles’, which we can identify yet machines will struggle to reproduce. Subsequently, these abilities will be highly competitive in the job markets of the future.
We can see many of these changes occurring in the business landscape today. Many small businesses are improving the efficiency and quality of their processes through the latest in cloud computing and collaborative technology. If you’d like to use technology to improve the way you manage the finances of your small businesses, try Reep. Reep integrates with MYOB, Agrimaster and Xero. You can import your data directly into the software to get a live, constantly updated view of your cash flow and create a forecast for the future.