A recent conversation with Neil Patrick brought out insights on new technologies and jobs.

The technology Tsunami affects us all

Technology-driven disruption is happening everywhere. Big firms are being disrupted by smaller more agile and more innovative firms. Whether its Ford being challenged by Tesla, or newspapers being sidelined by social media, the effect on jobs is the same – big firms are shedding people as they struggle to respond to the challenges that new technology and a fast-changing world is bringing. No-one is safe and everyone must be alive to the threat to their job.

But this change is not the end of the world

That said, the future’s bright for those who can adapt and embrace these changes. For example, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, big banks and financial institutions shed hundreds of thousands of workers. At the same time, entrepreneurs spotted an opportunity to bring technology to bear to create new banking and financial businesses that worked very differently to the big old firms. Customer service and simplicity could be enhanced through better technology, bringing down costs, expanding customer choice and making transactions simpler and faster. Today checks are almost never used, PayPal is the default method of payment for millions of transactions daily and crowdfunding is the choice for capital raising by thousands of small business start-ups.

In every case, big old banks are losing their stranglehold on our financial lives. Good for consumers but not so good if your job is at a big old bank. And even the big banks are admitting defeat by beginning to invest their own money in the most promising challenger banks, payment apps, and financial disruptors.

What to do? How should we respond?

The first step is to accept that this change is happening. We may not like it, but it’s real and it’s not going away.

Tsunami roadsign near Pescadero, California
Second, it’s imperative to understand the change in your own sector. Who is doing what and how will this impact your job? This is a new career skill, but it’s really not so difficult – you just have to get a lot more curious.

Third, when you know what’s happening, you must reconsider your future career path. Then you can prioritize career moves that enable you to get closer to the change, not run away from it. You don’t have to join a Silicon Valley startup to do this. Projects even in traditional firms that involve new technology and processes are of high value to your career. Regardless of whether these succeed or fail, your involvement will put you closer to the changes that are redefining our world, and your future options will be massively increased.

I practise what I preach

My previous career included over 15 years working at big old banks. Today, I work as an advisor to financial technology start-ups helping them shape their business strategies, raising capital and propelling their growth. It’s fast and furious work. It can be messy and chaotic. But it’s repositioned me from part of the old guard to part of the rebellion. And that’s the place to be I think.
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