Work may not have changed in its core definition but our perception and approach to work has definitely taken on many different forms over the past years. The second plenary session focused on ‘The Future of work: Leveraging the Power of 160 million.’ The session was moderated by Bimbola Wright and had Oyinkan Adewale, Peter Bamkole, Abe Jawando and Ben Afudego as the brilliant panelists.
Abimbola started by highlighting the power of technology as a major disruptor of business structures and the way we do our jobs and posed the question: is technology replacing human relevance in the workplace?
Oyinkan Adewale answered this question with a forthright answer that people will always remain relevant. I agreed with her even before she went to explain. And it makes so much sense.
With every new technology that replaces and shortens the process normally handled by a human comes the need to find someone with the knowledge to operate that technology. Every job that gets marginalized by technology always opens up other opportunities. With the increase in the use of technology in the financial industry came the need to create new job roles like the Chief Innovation Officer. The internet has changed the way brands relate with customers, affecting the jobs of traditional advertisers but creating new roles like the Chief Digital Officer and SEO specialist and Digital Content Strategist.
A good example is the erosion of jobs for ‘wait and get’ photographers at events. While many of the traditional photographers do not get as much patronage, we have seen a surge in the use of special photo booths that come with props and the option of getting print or digital copies. These have come with new models and business structures that sometimes eliminates the need for individual customers to pay but rather, have become a necessary side attraction that event organizer have to include in their budgets.
In essence, technology is about pioneering an opportunity and maybe more than that, it is about finding opportunities in existing models. This is because new technology never stands alone,there is always a value chain that can be into. The use of E-COMMERCE for example has opened up even more, opportunities in the logistics business.
Rather than fight the ‘invasion’ of new things or ways of doing things, it is paramount that we evolve and become a part of the new things that are happening.
Afudego continued by highlighting three disruptors of work as we know it:
His line of thought was also not far from what Oyinkan opened with. He explained further about how the changing landscape of what is acceptable or not in terms of conduct has presented opportunities for people to work with technology. For example, the introduction of intelligent analytic tools has also presented a problem of managing not just big data, but big data with a constituent of diverse characteristics and demography. This creates a job role for data analysts to help companies gain insight for making business decisions.
Bimbola then mentioned the age of the millennials as another disruptor. Their need for flexibility and choice has greatly tilted the idea of what work is, who can control it and how it is done.
She turned the conversation over to Abe Jawando, a direct sales professional with Mary Kay. Abe agreed to the flexibility and power of choice. Although she wasn’t looking out for the business when she started, the opportunity to be flexible with timing is one of the attractions of her work.
The millennial wants to know that she is not capped. She wants the ability to work from anywhere and define her own timelines. New technology and young minds allow for a full expression of creativity and adventure.
Peter Bamkole of Entrepreneurial Development Center, continued from here with a story about his daughter who works in a company where the CEO is the oldest person in the office at only 33 years old. We all laughed when he said she would send him pictures from the office of her getting her nails done even while at work. But that while that may not be allowed in every office, that is the picture of the new approach to work. And this mindset should tell us a lot about how young people learn today and fuel a change in the structure of our curriculum and the methodology with which we teach. We cannot wait until they get out of the current structured environments before they get exposed to the new ways of doing business and living.
Today, institutions are still providing 20th century education to youths who will be facing 21st century challenges.
There is no begging the question of relevance when it comes to education. We cannot keep shortchanging ourselves. Creativity will not come from our current structured systems, which really should be going obsolete. Education has gone beyond physical structures and theories.
We are no longer in the era of rasing engineers; we are in an era of raising creative entrepreneurial engineers.
Afudego then spoke about Virtualism and the ability for almost anything to be online. From education to work, flexibility through technology is already increasing productivity.
We all need a different approach to work. What we see to day are companies adopting new models through technology that works. We have more and more businesses fitting into the model of tech companies delivering retail experiences.
In terms of change, Bimbola mentioned the increasing number of young people taking up network marketing and direct sales, asking Abe if this was a trend that would continue considering the desires of millenials.
And she said it was. There will always be change and we just need to keep up with it.
Oyinkan also said that in cases where we can’t keep up with technology on all fronts, especially for the older generation, it was important to learn about employing oneself and monetizing passion.
In the end, while wondering about how we can manage all these changes and make the best of technology, Peter Bamkole rounded up by saying;
It’s not about the government; it’s about us
Note: These are my notes from the event and while the thoughts are correct, most of the statements have been paraphrased.