Back in the day, people talked about, “Knowledge is power,” and held this knowledge close to their chests. Based on the premise that, “I know something you don’t,” and I am thus, more powerful. Their mantra, soon died a silent death.
With the advent of the Internet, the paradigm changed. Knowledge was more readily available and distances as well as time commitments were not constraints anymore. Neither were financial obligations as the Internet had made it more affordable. All these constrictions once removed, paved the way for a more direct and easily accessed bank of knowledge, for the masses. It was revolutionary.
Then came the pandemic. Everything moved online. Not that a lot of it was not already online. But whatever was not, also became digital. Institutions across a broad spectrum, started offering free online workshops/courses/webinars/certifications etc. Even the ones that were paid engagements, were priced so low that an average person could access these as well. Training companies, consultants, educational institutions, libraries, governments, everyone started looking at digitizing their knowledge/information base. This mad dash towards digitizing knowledge became an inevitability rather than just a good idea. It is an evolution that has been a long time coming.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink (Human-brain-computer-interface) could change everything, yet again. How we approach education, learning, information, knowledge et al. And, it’s multi-dimensional. It may end up going even further, by addressing neurological challenges like sight, paralysis etc. It is, of course, a few years away, but, its impact would be far-reaching. Understanding its impact and planning for it (strategic as well as tactical) would be an informed move.
Innovation-driven, strategic, disruptive, digital, AI-based business models are coming to the fore. Automation/Self driving cars/Hyperloop/Electric mobility across the different avenues of road, air & seas etc. is changing the way we commute, live and work.
The collaborative economy is seeing a definitive shift to the autonomous world. All these changes also impact knowledge requirements. Jobs are not being taken away by automation. They are simply evolving. The new world requires Urban Agriculturists, Augmented Reality Architects, Avatar designers, Hyperloop Engineers, Nano Medics and Extinction Revivalists. It simply requires a transfer of skill sets, dovetailed with a mind-set adjustment.
The most dangerous phrase in life has become, “We have always done it this way”. If one simply learns to accept it, flow with it and learn from it, it can be amazing. The possibilities are endless. One just has to open up to them.
There has been talk of commodification of knowledge, which cannot be denied. But the democratization of it surely has a deeper influence/bearing on the current environment.
BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) brought in a shift, but it was either a simple geographical move or an economically driven re-positioning. It did not change the face of skill-set requirements per say. What the current revolution is bringing to the table is a complete shift. Skill-set upgrades are / will be the norm.
The overall democratization of knowledge has also been enabled & boosted by other aspects, including Open Source, Crowd Sourcing/Funding/Peer-to-Peer lending, Shared Economy aspects, digital distribution etc.
Since the choice of what one accesses has been blown wide open, now, more then ever, one needs to ensure relevance and applicability of knowledge. Passive consumerism of material available has moved into active choice. Choice is key.
Although Facebook, Alibaba, Uber and Airbnb were disruptors and their approaches were visionary, the skill set requirements for these models did not change and their impact on work / knowledge requirements were nominal. Facebook changed the content development model, but it remained a content development focus nonetheless. Uber changed the concept of a taxi but the taxi aspect remained consistent per say. Airbnb provided a new approach to hotels and short stay options but, essentially, it remained a stay option. Alibaba hit hard on the distribution angle but essentials remained intact.
Unlike all the above examples, Tesla had a profound impact on knowledge/skill set requirements and continues to put pressure on developing skills that are relevant in the future. The Tesla model has put pressure on multiple support structures (Energy, including oil companies and gas stations/Insurance/after-market parts and service channels/mechanics/emergency services, hospitals and legal costs due to the car’s autonomous aspect etc. This creates a substantial footprint across a broad segment base.
With the new paradigms, knowledge/skill requirements are shifting fast. We cannot rely on the old norm anymore. We must change with the times or be left on the heap of history reserved for people who either did not see the change or could not flow with it. The knowledge shift is not merely for a job, but to remain relevant for the future of mankind itself.
Re-invent/Up-skill/Re-skill/Re-think/Re-visit. Time is running out.
Uzair Hassan is the CEO of 3H Solutions Group.
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