The new industrial revolution is impacting the future of your business – what should you do?

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We are living in a time of a great industrial revolution. Technology has changed the way we live in a fundamental way.

In what we would now called the first industrial revolution (17th and 18th Century), inventions like the cotton gin, the telegraph, steam engines, electricity, and the internal combustion engine were created. After that, a second type of industrial revolution (1825 to 1900) happened when the railroads linked together the entire country from the East Coast to the West Coast.

The next big technological jump happened in the 20th Century, when computers were invented.

Now that computers are an everyday part of our lives, we are looking at a fourth type of industrial revolution. This industrial revolution is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Whenever we’ve had great technological advances in the past, it has always come at a cost. In many cases, the technological advancement displaced many jobs. However, it also opened the opportunity for new jobs to take their places.

A recent article from Business Insider identified 12 jobs that are the most at risk to be replaced by AI. When you look at the list, you’ll notice an equal mix of both blue collar and white collar jobs that will impact the legal, restaurant & hospitality, finance, retail and security industries.

Let’s say your business is one of the businesses that is targeted to be most at risk. Here’s how you can stay relevant:

  1. Embrace technology: Many of the positions that are being replaced by AI are repetitive tasks that are better done by a computer. This is particularly true if your job is math intensive. Financial planners & CPA firms really feel this pressure. That is why it is important for people in these fields to take full advantage of the technology that’s available. Why? Because the value of the work is not in the computation of data. The value is in the interpretation of the data. So, embracing technology allows a business to be done with the busywork of computation much faster. Thus, a CPA or Financial Planner can spend more time imparting their wisdom to their client to help that client’s business succeed.
  2. Double down on intrapersonal skills: The smartest computer is not a person. Ask yourself if there are times you’d rather interact with a person over a computer. There will be times when a person will need to speak to another person. So, get out there and interconnect! Make an emotional attachment to your customers. People buy from people they like. If you are a real person (Not just a number or a commodity) to your customers, they will stay with you. This aspect wasn’t always important in all businesses. Having that emotional touch will be a big differentiator between you and your competition.
  3. Keep up with the trends: Keep up with all the different news regarding your profession. Businesses that get ahead of the curve will be the ones that stay relevant when things change. Many businesses fail when they don’t keep up with current trends. The business landscape is littered with businesses that used to be on top, but failed to innovate and they no longer exist (Kodak, Blockbuster, A&P, and Borders).

Don’t lose sight of the fact that your business has a purpose and if you give your customer service that they value, they will stay loyal. If technology forces you to make changes in the services that you provide today, you want to remain agile enough to adapt to the changing needs of your customers.

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