Thinking Strategically About Artificial Intelligence

Two principles underpinning strategic agility are being comfortable with ambiguity, as you pay attention to emerging disruptive technologies, and mapping the likely scenarios. Never have these dual aspects of strategic agility been more critical for people seeking to position themselves in the job market of the future. By future, I mean five to ten years from now.

No doubt everyone reading this has seen the news stories on artificial intelligence and robots. To take a deeper dive into the possible implications I recommend reading two publications that I have read over the past month; articles in the July-August issue of The Atlantic (cover story Technology will Soon Erase Millions of Jobs and the July-August issue of Foreign Affairs (cover story Hi, Robot: Work and Life in the Age of Automation).  (As is clear from the articles in these publications, experts disagree on what the impacts of artificial intelligence will be, but there is no question transformative changes are close to the tipping point.)

The question is: what are the possible impacts for your profession, career path, and your industry? And how might you keep ahead of the game in terms of new competencies and/or opportunities?  The career paths being impacted are no longer limited to hourly workers; blue and white collar. Technology is eliminating jobs in some mid-level human resources roles, for example, and even parts of senior executive positions.

Unfortunately there are no certain answers to these questions. What is possible, is to notice early changes in other sectors and project possible scenarios. Also, become aware early of emergent skill sets and seek opportunities to begin developing those through self-directed learning. Self-directed life-long learning, long theorized by adult learning scholars is now at the heart of career sustainability. Because of changes in the workplace and society driven by technology, current skills are becoming obsolete more quickly than before.

The implication: Students will have to continue learning beyond their degree. Of course, that was always the case, but never as quickly as now.  So what are the threats to your organization’s business model? What new competencies will be needed? How can you make a compelling case to leaders in your organization or potential employers or clients?  Anticipating future possibilities is the basis for a sustainable career through bringing new value to the situation.

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