As technology transforms our economy, one trend is getting more and more attention: the prospect that it will increasingly automate the work that we human beings do. And it’s not just low skilled, manual labour that’s at risk — “knowledge” work like operational analytics and marketing is also being taken over by sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms.
But other changes are also afoot, changes that could allow the human dimension of work to become more important. While it’s true that technology is taking over routine tasks from many workers, it is also reshaping many supply and demand trends that drive our global markets. It’s this second technology-driven shift that can prevent automation from eliminating jobs, but jobs will change.
How Technology Is Reshaping Markets
On the demand side, technology is providing customers with far more power than ever before we have far more information about the options available to us and the ability to switch much more easily from one vendor to another if our needs are not being met. Many of us are also becoming more demanding we are less and less willing to settle for standardized, mass market products when it is far easier to seek out the niche products that are tailored to our specific needs and context.
And, to add to the challenge for vendors, we are increasingly shifting from ownership to usage-based pricing models, paying only for the actual usage of the product or service, something that is made more feasible by technology that can monitor our usage. For example, using a small wireless device plugged into a car’s diagnostic port, some companies now allow consumers to pay for car insurance on a per-mile basis, making it economical for low-frequency drivers to be fully insured without subsidizing customers who drive more. As we reduce our spend on physical products, we are often shifting our attention and spend on meaningful experiences that enrich our lives.