The Future of Jobs Report 2018, published by the World Economic Forum, presents a well-researched reading with a thorough and comprehensive coverage of global industries and regions. The essence of the report can be captured in the preface by Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman, World Economic Forum, which states “Catalysing positive outcomes and a future of good work for all will require bold leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit from businesses and governments, as well as an agile mindset of lifelong learning from employees.”
It was Peter Drucker who said in a 1992 essay for Harvard Business Review that “In a matter of decades, society altogether rearranges itself – its worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its arts, its key institutions. Fifty years later a new world exists. And the people born into that world cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. Our age is such a period of transformation.”
The transformative society, often called a knowledge society, has now gone past the initial technological innovations and is traversing the digital expressway. This no longer require 50 years for a full cycle of change, but just five years.
The report, which addresses a Fourth Industrial Revolution taking place from 2018-2022, puts forth succinctly that the impending transformations, if managed well, can lead to good work, good jobs and improved quality of life, or otherwise can result in widening skill gaps, greater inequality and broader polarization.
The key points are as follows:
- Four specific technological advances – ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology – are set to dominate the 2018–2022 period as drivers positively affecting business growth.
- Significant change is at hand in composition of value chain and the geographical base of operations.
- Lots of specific human tasks can be automated by 2022.
- The demand for traditional skills will diminish, paving the way for requirement for new skills like those of data analysts and scientists, software and application developers, and those with expertise in e-commerce, social media, machine learning, big data, process automation, information security analysis, human-machine interaction, robotics engineering and blockchain. Also included in this list are human-specific skills, such as training, organizational development and innovation managers.
- Companies prefer to hire new permanent staff with relevant skills, so existing employees should develop mindsets focused on a lifelong pursuit of learning, knowledge acquisition and re-skilling.
- Policymakers, regulators and educators will need to play a fundamental role in helping those who are displaced to repurpose their skills or retrain to acquire new skills.
While this report contains a wealth of valuable information, let us analyze how it impacts the fields of specific interest to ISACA’s professional community.
The report identifies an increase in cyber threats as one of many trends set to negatively impact business growth up to 2022, and increasing adoption of new technology such as big data, mobile internet, artificial intelligence and cloud technology as being among the many trends set to positively impact business growth. But all of the factors are only going to positively impact the cybersecurity profession, as advances in technology and its associated increasing cyber threats will only require more and more cybersecurity professionals.
The report also identifies stable roles, new roles and redundant roles, in which information security analysts are in both stable and new roles, which is very heartening and as expected.
Auditors have been mentioned under redundant roles, probably because it is thought that artificial intelligence can take over routine decisions on auditing and assessment. Though it is true to some extent, auditing as a profession will never diminish completely, as newer technologies will always bring in newer threats and loopholes, which need to be plugged-in by trained auditors. For sure, auditing techniques will evolve tremendously under AI, but the work can never be fully delegated to robots or be completely automated, because while humans can create super-intelligent computers which are completely predictable, humans themselves remain unpredictable. Therefore, human auditors are here to stay.
ISACA and the AICPA should continue to develop and evolve newer standards on auditing to render assurance services for the enterprises advancing technologies as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Author’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s views and do not represent those of the organization or of the professional bodies to which he is associated.