Half of the world’s population is online, one-third of the population is involved with at least one social network and 53 percent of people online access the web primarily through mobile devices. This rise in consumer connectivity has led to the cultivation of the digital economy—an internet-based ecosystem worth nearly $3 trillion.
The digital economy is a result of how the internet has transformed the way we do business. Comprised of a tech infrastructure, increasingly intuitive devices and platforms, a new and robust medium for advertising, immense audience networks and a seemingly unlimited stream of content possibilities, this tech-enabled frontier has forever changed the way brands are established and how products are marketed.
What may be most astounding of all is the rapid pace at which this new ecosystem was established. That $3 trillion worth has amassed within the last 20 years and is nearly monopolized by the top tech giants you’d expect: Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and four prominent Chinese companies that actually generate 90 percent of that massive revenue to date.
But that’s not to say that smaller companies will see little benefit from jumping on board with the digital economy. In fact, companies that have adapted to the digital world are reportedly 26 percent more profitable than their industry competitors.
With all these statistics in mind amidst the growing fear of an artificial intelligence workforce takeover, how can you be sure your skill set remains relevant as a working professional? Consider the following.
4 Ways to stay relevant in a digital economy
1. Commit to continually learn
It has been suggested that the most important “skill” to master if you hope to stay relevant within and continue adding value to your industry is a willingness to adapt and learn. If you can demonstrate your ability to confidently learn more about your field as it evolves, that may be considered even more valuable than a mile-long list of already-established skills.
After all, it is impossible to approach a new job opportunity having mastered every skill from the get-go, but it is entirely possible to demonstrate your willingness and ability to grow and develop alongside the industry. It’s also true that the best job candidates for nearly any position are not those who feel the hard work is done once they have their foot in the door, but rather those who understand their responsibility to continually add to their skill set.
This also requires you to take the initiative to keep your finger on the pulse of the digital economy at large and learn independently—not simply when encouraged or required by your employer.
2. Be open to human-machine interaction
While it’s been reported that 51 percent of job activities can be automated, less than five percent of jobs can be entirely replaced by machines. Rather than disappearing entirely, most jobs will become partially automated.
No matter your specific industry, it’s in your best interest as a professional to get on board with human-machine interaction, as it will very likely be a requirement in the job positions you’re seeking. The best thing you can do in preparation is to familiarize yourself with the technology relevant to your industry. Whether you aim to become more well-versed in top programming languages, widespread web application software, popular analytics tools or common content management systems, do some research to identify the top technology needs within your industry and start studying up early.
It’s also important to note that this technology takeover isn’t just limited to the workforce. One 2016 study predicts the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse by the year 2020. This somewhat alarming statistic makes clear one thing that the best business professionals already know: The evolution of technology in our day-to-day lives will not be halting any time soon, so it’s wise to get a jump on it and become as well-versed as possible before those on-the-job requirements come into play.
3. Establish a robust professional network
By now, we’ve all heard of the professional importance of networking. But in the digital economy, your network can actually become one of your most prominent value propositions. Tapping into your professional network for insight on a new topic or challenge—or to act as resources for future projects—will prove invaluable as you seek to develop your skill set.
Similarly, it’s a general best practice to make sure you are also an active member within that network, offering your own insight or assistance when needed. Not only will this act as an incentive for others to help you in return, but it can also further establish your expertise in your field.
4. Rely on your experience as a digital consumer
In an effort to keep up with the pace of the digital economy, businesses can fall victim to trying to do too much too quickly. To truly thrive, organizations need minds like yours to keep them in check and make sure they haven’t ventured too far ahead of the customer.
A successful business doesn’t do too much of a new thing, while also refraining from doing too much of the same old thing repeatedly. Achieving a sense of balance is key. We are all digital consumers in our own right, and we can learn some valuable information by analyzing our own user experiences on varying platforms and interfaces.
This balance is also important when you consider the fact that laws, regulations and security measures are often a step or two behind the constant evolution of technology. When progressing at too rapid a pace, certain regulations can get overlooked and unknown security risks can possibly be breached, putting valued customer data in danger. Keeping your values as a digital consumer in mind on behalf of your organization will only assist the company in the long-run.
Solidify your spot in the digital economy
The digital economy, while at times daunting, has and will continue to add new levels of work into our job force. In many cases, it has even paved the way for entirely new job titles, such as chief marketing technologists, digital storytellers, and user experience (UX) designers.
As members of the global workforce continue to fret over the fate of their jobs in the wake of the artificial intelligence boom, you can rest assured: People are crucial to a successful digital economy. The most successful businesses and projects are those that have addressed each stage of progression with a fresh pair of eyes. Those eyes belong to people with not only a human level of emotional intelligence, but also a mortal understanding of the fundamental mission upon which the business or project was founded.
If you find yourself stressing out about your ability to remain relevant as the industry around you evolves so rapidly, be sure to work on developing the skills organizations need people like you for, beginning with the four listed above.
The reality of our digital economy is that the lines between business and technology jobs are blurring. Learn more about some of these crossover career opportunities by reading our article, 6 Hybrid Jobs that Straddle Business and Technology.