We owe it to our kids to become tech-heads

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What do the following quotes have in common?

  1. “It would be a daunting task requiring tens of billions of dollars in capital and years to build sufficient scale and density to replicate existing networks like FedEx.” – Mike Glenn, Executive Vice President of FedEx talking about Amazon
  2. “We have not seen a direct effect [from Airbnb] in any of our hotels.” – Richard Jones, Senior VP and COO of Hospitality Ventures Management Group
  3. “Apple is like a mutant virus, escaping from the traditional structure of the PC industry, but the industry will still eventually build up immunity.” – Stan Shih, Founder, President, and Chairman of Acer Inc.
  4. “Neither RedBox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition.” – Jim Keyes, CEO of Blockbuster
  5. “[These mobile games are] candidly disposable from a consumer standpoint.” – Reggie Fils-Aime, President of Nintendo

You probably have picked it up. What these quotes have in common are a couple of points:

  • They were said by highly influential and successful people of the time with regards to their competitors that were building new businesses in fields they were well experienced
  • The new entrants were all bringing new ways of doing business with their disruption stemming largely from advances in multiple technologies
  • The quotes were said within the previous 10 years

For point two, CNN called the silicon chip the ‘most influential invention‘ back in 2004. That was at a time when Facebook was less than 10 months old. Twitter was still two years out. The world population was 6.4 billion and the mobile penetration rate was just 27.4%. Now the population is 7.4 billion with a mobile penetration of 103%. Their assertion back then has been strongly reinforced beyond doubt. Looking at the graph below, see how technology has exponentially advanced since that article:

Technology has clearly changed our lives in drastic ways in the previous decade. Did you know the jobs listed below were non-existent, or at least in their current form in 2008?

  1. Social Media Managers
  2. Mobile app designers and developers
  3. Data scientists and anything to do with A.I.
  4. App-based taxi drivers like drivers for Uber and Lyft
  5. Cloud services specialists
  6. SEO Specialists
  7. YouTube content creators and content moderators/marketers

All of these jobs were created on the back of technologies that advanced exponentially and very importantly, technologies that merged. Social media platforms blew up because of a merger between improving data network connections, server technologies, better battery technologies and shrinking of silicon chips which allowed people to carry computationally capable devices everywhere. As can be seen from the graph above, the rate of change of technology is only going to increase at an exponential pace.

If 10 years ago you had told your parents that you wanted to become a Data Scientist, how were you going to explain the job spec? Our parents are our first teachers and mentors. They have a huge influence on what we end up studying and working as. Look at the number of Chartered Accountants whose parents were also CAs. Or pilots. These days we have some university graduates thinking of careers in Cybersecurity. Who can mentor them at home when just 10 years ago (when most of our parents were already in their 50s+), these jobs were non-existent?

As technology is advancing, there is no doubt numerous new jobs are going to be created that have never existed in the history of human-kind. Soon we are going to talk in real time with personalised Virtual Shop Assistants on, say, Pick n Pay’s digital platform in a way that will feel like we are interacting with a human in a physical shop.

Computational technologies have just started disrupting our world. We are becoming more connected, chips are becoming even smaller with increasing power, and better algorithms are being created every day. What this means is for us to become parents who can mentor our kids, we have to become technologically literate. I am not trying to convince you to sit and learn how to code in Python but reading up on how disruptive upcoming technologies are will help you prepare your kids for what is coming. The world is going to be drastically different in 2030 compared to now and that is the time when many of our kids are going to be finishing high school and asking for advice on what to study or finishing university and hoping you will tell them about the best career they will dedicate many years of their lives to (according to advances in medical technologies, they will be able to work well into their 70s and 80s!)

It’s a brave new world!

houston

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