Published August 2018
I have just spent several days flying around South Africa to present a crucial talk to final year law students at several universities.
The universities I’ve visited :
I was asked to talk about how technology is going to change the legal fraternity in the years to come.
I am extremely grateful for these sorts of opportunities. I wish I had more.
I was also asked to talk to final year accounting students after their keynote speaker cancelled.
One man’s challenge is another man’s gain.
The road show was sponsored by a bank and I want say well done to them for this initiative as well as thank them for the opportunity. I hope someone from their office reads this.
Of course, there are many changes and disruptions in just about every industry because of technology.
The biggest concern is job loss, and rightfully so!
There are reports of job losses as high as 40% to be expected due to automation processes. I predict more if we take into consideration AI, reluctant engagement and other technology.
Of course, clients and customers love the outcome of these job-threatening factors, most of which result in a faster and less costly service or product for them.
I wanted to share some of my personal experience with law students to support points I wanted to make about industry trends. For those who don’t know, I have a rather large online legal network, which I started with some simple web tech, so I am in a very good position to present on the subject.
I always have a few challenges at these keynote talk events. One example is that I’m very short, and I’m always placed behind a lectern and so no one can see me. Kidding, the more pressing issue is that most people have little to no idea who I am, never mind what I have achieved. This is because I have always focussed on marketing the product or service, not my own name. I resolve this before I share any advice. My words would be ignored if people thought I had no experience. After all, we all hate it when people with no experience try to give advice.
I like to start the story of my background with the point that I started work really young, having had my first two jobs in high school already, one of which was related to computers, and then how I started my own company as soon as I left high school, which resulted in invoicing my first million by the age of 19.
I also like to remind people that I came from a financially challenged family and was primarily raised by my mom.
I also like to share that my childhood faced many challenges, including living with a physical disability but, in spite of this, I maintained a strong passion for business. I also met some very supportive people who inspired me to get my own companies and projects going, which made me a very young and successful entrepreneur in my early days.
I am grateful for the support I have always received.
Additionally, I share the facts about how my big-scale career started around 2004 and that it is when I started to work on technical related skills, PR, general management, marketing, media and, of course, my web marketing strengths.
I explain then that life sped up for me, workwise, and that I started an entertainment agency in 2006, a web design company in 2009, a law network in 2010 and so it carried on year by year. In 2011 I started a photography company and a production/PR company in 2013. In 2014 I started a sound, stage and lighting company, which is also an events company. That brings me to this year, 2018, in which I started my own consultancy as well as the launch of my first book.
My plans for 2019 will be tackling Cyber Security and I.o.T.
It is helpful to give context to my career, which is over a decade long so far. At the same time I took on private projects and clients in just about every field, from debt collecting to marketing teddy bears.
In addition to my work and business experience, I have travelled to South and North America, much of Europe, some of Asia and too many African countries, which resulted in around 25 cities visited so far.
In short, I’ve dealt with over 20 000 business clients, covering around 300 to 400 types of industries on one level or another.
I strongly believe that entrepreneurship along with good technology can improve a lot of our country and its people’s futures, so I hope my story not only gives context but also inspires.
With that said, I needed to unpack the keynote subject and address the job losses due to automation, technology and other related factors.
It isn’t challenging for me to speak generally across industries because many of my points apply to most, and the difference between legal and accounting practices is so diminutive it was easy to address both careers without having to make many changes to my talk. After all, both practices operate in similar realms when it comes to computer structures. Both practices also need to run ethically and, therefore, accountability is another common factor. It also has similar marketing and client demographics and even uses similar technology.
Here is a roundup of some of the highlighted points and nuggets of information I shared.
The first thing I pointed out is that without having to study their respective fields I am earning the same amount as a senior partner would in a firm by simply using the Internet, technology and taking advantage of a niche. This point always creates a bit of hype. Understandably, because here I was, bragging about making money from their industries, having skipped all the years of hard work they had just completed.
If that were not bad enough, the majority of them had no job prospects pending. Not even internships. It is very disheartening for me to see this.
The lack of opportunity in our country is mainly due to the economy and general sentiment, which is that employers are hesitant to employ anyone fulltime.
The point I was trying to make here was not to brag, but to point out how their jobs and clients are being taken by tech savvy people or technology in general, and to be more aware of these influences in their life planning.
Both the legal and accounting industries will suffer substantially when it comes to job losses, accountants more so.
I tried to balance the bad with some good. So my next few points were that technology is helping professionals achieve new levels of problem-solving and decision-making. Of course, this is thanks to access to digitally managed information and also that tech reduces mistakes, improves consistency of work and, in general, lowers operational costs for companies.
I also spoke about AI and how technology means that companies are staying open longer hours, if not 24/7, and, at the same time, crushing the small fish vs. big fish scenario. In other words levelling the playing field, which means, everyone has to share clients and compete with a similar service offering. This is why getting to know your client personally now is more important than ever.
I spoke about how technology is being used to find new or more clients through new access channels and also harnessing web marketing platforms.
Technology is also making professionals happier, in general, as well as improving the quality of their work life. Flexi hours or even working from home has never been so simple.
As the smiles returned to the faces in front of me, unfortunately, I had to share some examples of non-studied professionals coming into the industry and taking their jobs, if not automating several of their services totally. There are so many examples, and I can quickly call up several websites at any time to support this.
In most industries technology is changing income revenue models for companies. For example, the threat of the billable hour for lawyers to disappear in the near future and car purchases moving towards the leasing option instead. There are so many examples.
In most of the talks I do, I always have to highlight the risk of security and the many, new vulnerabilities within companies because of technology. It is a fact that less than half are taking action.
I also made a brazen point, considering where I was standing while saying it, that most universities are failing to equip their students with any tech savvy knowledge to use in the real world. This is a real problem. I wish the department would call on me to help add some modules into main stream courses.
I am not exaggerating when I say most. 75% or more students had no idea about the majority of the risks, challenges or even opportunities I was talking about.
I like to encourage people to think about opportunities and how new careers are going to evolve as middlemen between tech and third-parties, pointing out simple examples like crypto currency and how SARS/clients/suppliers won’t know how to deal with this evolution once it comes into full effect.
Even the simple increase on the volume of data being generated creates new job opportunities.
In most industries I believe there will be substantial job losses, but also a near equal amount of opportunities for new jobs. Unfortunately, these jobs will be slow on the uptake because of several mitigating factors, like a lack of support from industry, government and even internally. Some people are tech resistant, which will be to their own detriment.
A lot more work has to be done on encouraging people to move with the times.
I do foresee at least a 45% job loss in Africa in the next 5-10 years from our general labour work pool. This percentage will only decrease once industries and governments wake up and shift focus. Our government is distracted at the moment, and therefore I am predicting a recession in the main stream job market due to technology advances not being addressed in the labour market.
My advice to people is this. Expect to live longer. Advances in healthcare due to technology are evident and advancing still. Over your lifespan, be prepared to work 2 to 3 jobs and really consider starting your own company. If not, accept the best case scenario, which is to prepare yourself for the fact that you will share your career with some sort of tech or perhaps even a robot or two.
Published August 2018