in Opinion

Why You Need to Develop that Scarce Skill

The digitisation of our world creates a huge shift in how we do our jobs. The shift is even so big that some of the jobs we do will be completely commoditized and replaced by digital solutions. For a long time we assumed that craftsman were just fine, since working with your hands is enormously specialised work that no robot could replace. However with the emergence of 3D printing, craftsman such as the goldsmith might just be years away of being replaced by a 3D printer and a designer with 3D design program. And even the 3D designer could be replaced by an algorithm.

All competences are being digitised

The skill of working with gold and turning it into something beautiful is becoming something that can be done via technology. Though when you are creating stuff, what is your next skill to learn? Is it becoming a better craftsman by improving the old, or will you become a different craftsman by adopting the new?

If you are a parcel company (or perhaps less abstract: a truck driver for such a company), you know the end is neigh for your job. Amazon considers drones for delivery, and even though that might be futuristic it should make you think: do we need people and trucks to move stuff from A to B? The answer is clear: no you don’t, drones most likely will be more efficient. So what is your next skill as a truck driver?

Though not only in the physical world this ongoing replacement is going on. The digital world is reinventing itself just as hard. Front-end development used to be a no brainer, we need front-end developers because there is no tool that could replace them. We need to rephrase that statement: there was no tool yet. A tool like Macaw is coming very close and it will be just a matter of years before the front-end developer is obsolete. What will the front end developer do, what will his speciality become in the upcoming years.

Machines outperform the strategists

And it might be clear that when you make something you can be replaced by a robot, that is the old scary picture being painted by the industrial revolution. However when your job is thinking, such as you are a strategist of some sort, your job is dead wood. What you do is draw up different strategies for your company or customers based on your insights and sometimes based on a bit of data.

However what you cannot do is comparing 400 million different scenarios with 1000 parameters to show what is most likely to work in the end. In the age of big data the machine has become the faster thinker with more capacity to create the best strategy based on data. You as an individual can only do so much, but not comparing million of scenarios in a couple of minutes. So what is the strategy for the strategist to be of added value, will he become a button pusher on the big data machine; a typical blue-collar worker?

Move where the added value shifts to

As with everything the added value shifts from time of time and skills that are scarce will be commoditized. End 19th centuries we had computers, people who did really complex mathematical computations, they got replace by… yes computers as we know it. When you watch Mad Men you’ll see typists, a skill that is completely commoditized. Work changes, however most of us never realised that this change was so constant and moved so quickly with digital.

If you want to be sure you’ll make the right next step for your next job make sure you become the expert in a scarce skill in a field that is suffering from abundance. Such as becoming a data scientist in the world of big data or a growth hacker in the world of digital. However do not consider those as the jobs you’ll keep till your pension, already think about your next step after this new role. Since also these jobs will be completely commoditized and digitized.