App developer, millennial generation expert, social media specialist, user experience designer: if you’re not familiar with these jobs, that’s because they didn’t exist until recently. 10 years ago, you’d raise your eyebrows at someone who called himself an ‘Influencer’.
Some – if not most – of the highest paying jobs nowadays need a skill or two that has to do with the Web. These skills can range from SEO, social media, video analytics, content marketing, PPC, web design, to reputation management. All kinds of industries hire people with digital expertise.
Retail brands for instance, employ social media specialists to listen in on consumer reactions. Legal professionals sometimes get SEO experts to give their websites the right boost on Google. Even healthcare hire others in their field to outsource monotonous tasks (i.e. transcribing, data collection, etc.).
With almost everything moving on to the Web, it’s no wonder more and more people are choosing to build their careers online. App developers, social media specialists, and user experience designers can be available to you as freelance agents or on-demand.
Some choose to build their own digital empires around their skills. They are the small startups offering specialized services. A large percentage of workers on the other hand, opt to work on short-term jobs, more commonly known as ‘gigs’.
In the Philippines for example, 1.5 million people are dependent on these digital jobs to earn decent incomes. They work as virtual assistants, writers, graphic designers, and video editors. They compete not only with fellow Filipinos, but also with worldwide talent. As more and more individuals fill in digital roles, it’s only a matter of time before demand hits a saturation point.
Digital Jobs in Danger
One of the reasons why workers choose to either build businesses or to become freelancers is the fear of being replaced. If you are your own boss, you don’t need to fear the pink slip. Or do you?
It seems we’re really good at developing technology that will ultimately replace us. Take Artificial Intelligence (AI) ‘Emma’ for example. In 2015, it battled against a seasoned news writer and almost came out on top (if not for the ‘slightly less elegant writing’). Humans are still better at discerning which facts are best for specific write-ups. But as engineers input more training data into computers, it’s not far before AIs begin writing this very article.
In fact, ‘Emma’ will be tested again this year. This time, it shall be going against stock traders. Is it too early to assume this profession’s impending doom at the hands of a robot?
In an interesting article by author and digital professional Daniel Ruyter, he predicts how certain marketing jobs could become outdated thanks to advances in innovation. These include marketing media specialist, PPC marketing manager, and SEO specialist. The rationale behind it is that, as more people become adept at similar skills (particularly on the Web), some C-level jobs could be going away soon.
For instance: if a company has a CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) and a CIO (Chief Technology Officer), it’s highly plausible to simply merge the two. This is because a lot of customers are moving to the Web, making technology an inseparable entity in marketing.
Another example: if a brand has to hire an SEO expert and a social media manager, it’s likely that they will simply choose a digital marketing specialist (someone skilled at both SEO and social media). Why spend for two when you can save money on one?
It’s not just digital marketing jobs that are on the line. Believe it or not, even writers have competition. Wordsmith, a product from Automated Insights, can turn data into simple narratives. This is perfect for brands that constantly need reports or product descriptions on their websites – fast. Why outsource writing jobs when this nifty platform can do it for you for free? There go creative jobs.
When New Becomes Old and New Again
‘Technology might be solving many of life’s problems, but it’s also creating problems of its own.’ – Senior Digital Adviser John Peart
One of the biggest risks of AI is replacing thousands to millions of people in the labor force. This is a huge concern, particularly for developing countries like the Philippines. Already, automation of several customer services has the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in clamor.
If AI technology becomes successful, its implementation could make about 1.2 million BPO Filipino workers jobless. Even if they took on an online gig, it’s not a steady source of income.
One thing that BPO leaders – and the world – are looking into to solve this dilemma is Augmented Intelligence. Unlike Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Intelligence (also known as Intelligence Amplification or IA) is all about helping people increase productivity, and guide us into making smarter decisions.
So if you’re a social media specialist, user experience designer, or an SEO expert, don’t fret just yet. Soon, IA technology should help you become better at what you do. Imagine shorter working hours and increased productivity. For businesses, no more costly meetings that usually go nowhere. With IA, your execs can be guided into predicting profits before the year is over.
Augmented Intelligence is hope: digital jobs don’t need to be phased out. Rather, it just needs to level up. However, this poses another issue. IA needs human input and data in order to churn out valuable results. So if you want to work alongside one, you should possess the necessary skills and knowledge beforehand.
In the case of Filipino workers for instance, they need to learn how IA works and how it can make their jobs easier. Otherwise, they risk falling behind. The same is true for other popular digital occupations today. If writers for example, don’t learn how they can integrate technology in their work, they might be tagged as the outdated one.
So learn the tech to keep the job. Sure, there are plenty of content marketers or social media specialists on the Web. But YOU would be the one who knows how to do both in less than 15 minutes.