25 years on: Why robots won't have all the jobs

JETPACKS, flights to the moon, hover boards, driverless cars, virtual assistants and jobs we have never even thought of.

Welcome to the world in the next 25 years, according to a new business report which says the companies that look after humans the most will be the biggest winners.

In the latest in the Future of Business series, MYOB explores the technological revolution that will transform the way we connect, relate and interact with one another.

While we will have experienced a dramatic shift in the way we work by the 2040s, what might be even more remarkable is the increased value of the human experience.

MYOB Chief Technical Advisor and futurist Simon Raik-Allen says, even with incredible advances in technology, people need to be together to truly be creative.

"Right now, we're on the cusp of what the World Economic Forum calls the fourth industrial revolution. There's no doubt that momentous change is underway and that there will be huge employment impact from the disruptive change.

"But, like the last industrial revolution, it is more likely to enrich our experiences and provide more opportunities for meaningful work and exciting business."

Mr Raik-Allen believes that, rather than technology isolating or excluding people, it will bring them together.

"It doesn't matter how advanced our technology becomes, in the end, it will come down to people and values.

"The next revolution will lift humanity, embrace creativity and shape a world that empowers communities. People will always be at the centre of the business, and their experience will be more valued than ever."

Some of the technologies on the rise identified by the report are:

  • Contactless contact: Moving beyond touch-screen technology to provide gesture support, allowing users to swipe, pinch, highlight and even type without any contact with their device.
  • Jetpacks: Jet packs are being developed in some parts of the world for emergency services
  • Virtual assistant: These assistants will be accessed through a device or even a direct neutral connection which is capable of helping us navigate the workforce
  • Changing workplace: It's now estimated that 65 per cent of children entering primary school will work in a job that doesn't exist today

Looking back to look forward

While not all the technologies promised for the world in the 21st Century have come to fruition, Simon Raik-Allen says we can learn a lot about what the future holds by looking back.

"We live in a world that is taking its first steps in developing a host of technologies that will shape our future.

"Jetpacks, self-driving cars, bionic limbs, interplanetary travel, holograms, AI assistants - the stuff of science fiction in the last century is now very close to reality," Mr Raik-Allen says.

"When I look back at the two decades of global innovation, there has been some stunning successes and some resounding failures," says Mr Raik-Allen.

"For many of them, that success or failure has hinged less on how well they were built or the idea on which they were created, and more on how they were received by people: did they solve a problem, have a place in society, and capture the imagination in a way their competitors didn't?"

The report examines the evolutionary dead ends of the technology sector, from Dvorak keyboards to Google glasses and highlights some of the key factors - including social acceptance, marketing power and even colour - that determines the winners and losers.

Five jobs you might want to think about

Travel curator: Be it virtual or in real life, a travel curator (formerly known as a travel agent) will be an integral part of travel planning. Able to holographically bring your destination to you and relate their own personal experiences, these curators will be easily accessible and available 24/7.

Craft brewers: Hipsters rejoice; craft brewing will not be a thing of the past. More high tech than ever before, with the
ability to grow your own grain and hops at rapid rates, craft brewing will be an experience everyone can enjoy.
It won't be all modern though, delivered on a GoPro Karma drone (circa 2016), the brewing experience will still have that vintage feel.

Unreal real estate agent: Want to purchase property in the south of France but don't have the spare time to jet over the pond? Never fear, a real estate agent will be there in a jiffy. Not only will you be able to tap into their knowledge of the market, they will also be able to virtually "walk" you around potential abodes so you can "see" yourself living there.

Lawyers and accountants: Not everyone will have picked up a law or accounting degree by 2040 so access to these professionals will remain crucial. The only difference will be their availability and access, instant communication will be commonplace and there will be no "paperwork" with all digitised documents stored in your own personal cloud.

Artists: Artists of varying shapes and forms from water-colourists to poets, authors and actors, musicians
and designers, will be as prevalent as they are today. Creativity isn't going to disappear anytime soon and only so
much can be done through the addition of apps. People will still want to tap into skills that they themselves don't
possess (organically, anyway). 

Source: MYOB 25 Years: The Future of Business


Facebook, for example, has been such a success because it is so easy to use - and everyone likes blue.

Mr Raik-Allen predicts the rise of a whole new section of business designed to fulfil the need for human interaction and experience, provide tailored, personal advice and guidance, or create experiences designed specifically for the customer.

"How many of these developments will unfold, and their influence on business and society, is unpredictable. But, by looking at the last 25 years, we can see patterns of development, which allow us to discern the ways current technology may evolve.

"In particular, in every development and at every stage, we see how important the influence of society and the individual has been over every new technology.

Regardless of the developments in areas like AI and robotics, we are building a future people will inhabit - and developers ignore at their peril the very human side of business and technology.

"As a business owner you need to make sure that you can rapidly change to align with the way in which not just technology but society is moving. In predicting the future of business technology over the next 25 years, people will be your best barometer.

"Understanding what they want, what problems they need solving, how they'd like their experience to be delivered, and whether they are ready yet for the next step will determine success as much in 25 years as it does today."