The dark side of disruptive technologies and innovation

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Imagine a world in which there are no longer pimps and madams taking their middle cut of the business. Hard isn’t it? Well, some pundits believe these “jobs” will virtually disappear because of disruptive technologies and innovation. Craigslist and other online services, where workers can transact business direct with customers, will chop the middle person.

With the recession, job cuts and dynamically changing markets, many jobs have begun to go into decline or disappear. In the office, filing clerks, typists, telephonists and secretaries have been disappearing. So, too, have assemblers, metalworkers, toolmakers, sewing machinists and printers in the industrial and manufacturing sectors.

Over a long period disruptive technologies and innovation have all but wiped out microfilm professionals, photo lab technicians, photo-typositors, typesetters and stenographers.

Who’s next? Bookstore owners, bookbinders, meter readers, webmasters, flight booking agents, printers and print encyclopedia personnel?

Disruptive technologies and innovation can also lead to new jobs and careers. Some of the job titles predicted for the future may sound strange but think how weird web designer must have been for many in the 1990s. Green jobs may include a “cloud controller” (someone who helps clouds reflect solar radiation), “simplicity consultant” (a person who simplifies and streamlines processes, products and services in companies) and bioinformationist scientist (who combines genetic information with drug development and clinical techniques). Already bioformatician is a job description used in pharmaceutical companies.

What jobs will still be around despite massive creative destruction? Probably lawyers, politicians, artists, tax collectors and undertakers.

What’s this all got to do with small business owners? Well, for one, think about how your job role has changed, is changing and will change.

Jobs are always changing and being reinvented. Whatever the disruptive technologies or innovation and economic cycles accelerating change, the drive is always to create value for customers. Innovation or creativity helps to transform the job market in more effective ways to serve customers.

Some experts in human resources believe that when jobs disappear work becomes more important. Hiring and organising people to do a specific job is not flexible for an ever-changing market. Businesses are hiring people with the right fit for the business instead of the best fit for a particular job. Results are what count, not job descriptions, not tasks and processes.

Many people have several careers these days and need to adjust to their own personal change and the changes happening in the marketplace. The small business owner is no different, needing to change with new technologies and innovation. Life-long learning sounds uncool. But school’s never really out. We have to keep up with the pace of change, respond to and anticipate customers’ needs.

The alternative is to stagnate, fall behind, crash and burn.

For small business owners who rapidly learn to adapt to change, the future in 10 years’ time is more likely to hold greater wealth and enjoyment of life.
Stay inspired.

Chesney Bradshaw

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