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Adaptive, Specialized Knowledge Workers are Fitter to Survive Future Changes

-By Sean Nathaniel, Senior VP of Workflow Automation Solutions and CTO, Upland Software, Inc.

Survival of the fittest, a phrase coined by Herbert Spencer and inspired by Darwin’s theory of natural selection, dictates that the most adaptable and strongest species will survive and flourish while other less adaptable types will eventually disappear. The same concept can be applied to today’s workforce, which has evolved greatly in recent years. Employees who are “fit” are flexible. They develop useful skills to adapt to their environments and will benefit substantially more in the future. In contrast, those who refuse to change will be challenged in maintaining their employment prospects and potentially their livelihood.

An article I recently published in Workflow magazine specifically addressed exciting paradigm shifts impacting the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Workflow Automation industries. As I explained in the article: “Ultimately, what this auspicious new era demands of businesses is the ability to adapt to the next generation of the workforce, one that is increasingly decentralized, technologically demanding, and wary of inflexible processes that don’t intelligently and seamlessly manage a data set that consists of both content and data (not either/or).”

So what do today’s companies want from their employees, and what skills, talents, education and abilities help ensure an employee’s success? Businesses are increasingly looking to hire individuals with specialized knowledge expertise, people who have already been taught to do a specific job rather than generally capable people who require significant on-the-job training.

According to the Wall Street Journal in May 2016, “While routine jobs have gone nowhere over the past three decades, the number of people in knowledge work jobs has more than doubled, and there are no signs of that trend slowing. This strongly suggests that even though technology is eliminating some jobs, it’s creating even more in different fields. In fact, knowledge work occupations have been adding more jobs than any other year since the 1980s – about 1.9 million per year.”

Keeping this in mind, the best defense for today’s employee is to be proactive about acquiring knowledge-oriented skills that employers want in burgeoning market sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2022, computer and mathematical occupations are expected to yield more than 1.3 million job openings.

More specifically, as security breaches, hacks and ransomware attacks like WannaCry plague businesses and individuals alike, a veritable army of technically skilled workers is needed to combat their current and future manifestations.

Another prime area of job growth is in the analytics driven automation of work. As data and content from stored emails and documents continues to accumulate, professionals who can optimize the flow of work through an organization will be essential and highly valued.

For all computer related jobs, proficiency in technology tools capable of performing these functions, or development/coding of software that addresses such needs, are critical components for providing value.

By gaining education and marketable skills, today’s employees can put themselves in an ideal position to survive and thrive as knowledge and security professionals. Proactively seeking education and qualifications for technology employment categories such as workflow automation and programming will increase their chances to be among the “fittest” and enjoy gainful and consistent employment.

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