Technology is Eating People

I read a Facebook post made by friend Eric Barna one day. He says:

technology eating people“One thing people have largely ignored when talking about "When are the jobs coming back?" is technology. Ever buy a piece of clothing online? You are helping put a salesman out of work. Ever book travel online? You are helping put a travel agent out of work. Ever accepted a meeting invitation through email? You are helping put an administrative assistant out of work.

You get the idea. Technology is about "eating people."* The S&P 500 companies are reporting 33% more profits than before the meltdown... but total employment is down since then. Technology, my chosen career path, has been great and I love doing it but it does "eat people" just like Soylent Green. A lot of the jobs people hope are coming back just aren't coming back. Capitalism is based largely on productivity... doing more with less.”

Eric goes on about the auto industry, how the US had peak employment in 2000, but today only 67% of that is employed in the industry. Technology (software and robotics) ate people/jobs.

My own industry, graphic design, has suffered because of technology. Software that was once exclusive to artists and designers is easily available and a little more affordable, and in some cases free, allowing “do it yourselfers” (DIY) to take on their own projects or young adults to get a little cash with their new-found hobby. The Internet and email has brought the world closer, and business owners are taking advantage of outsourcing design work to China and Slovakia. So, it’s no wonder my graphic design firm suffered.

It’s a harsh reality when a prospect asks for a quote and then later they show me what they did on their computer with a free software application. I politely say “that’s nice” and grimace privately when I see obvious errors and a lack-luster style or professional design. And I patiently wait for that prospect to come back to me with a problem with their design: the printer said it’s not “print ready;” my clients aren’t paying attention to it; I thought Word had a spell check.

One of Eric’s Facebook friends, Rob LaGow, said, “And it's why the jobs that are coming back are ‘service’ jobs. You can't serve someone a hamburger online.”

There is a lot of truth to that. Not everyone wants a service job, but that’s where technology is bringing our country. I don’t mean to be a downer here, but it is reality. Though this is big picture, let’s think about how we can change this in our own business practice. We can start by buying products made in America. We can insure our clients and prospects will receive super-duper customer service. We can find other ways to make ourselves unique or irresistible that clients just want to work with you.

Share how you will maintain the expertise in your field. Will you write a book? Start a new blog? Implement programs? I want to hear and celebrate your success!

*Eating People was coined by Andy Kessler, author of “Eat People: and Other Unapologetic Rules for Game-Changing Entrepreneurs"

Alicia White is the CEO of Back of the Room Productions, home of the Speakers Briefcase™, Authors Briefcase™, and The Speaklet™ and North America's first Back of the Room Branding and Marketing Materials Provider. Copyright 2013.

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