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Companies that don’t yet exist, will build products that are not yet conceived, based on ideas not yet invented, with manufacturing methodologies that have not yet been conceived. Are you ready for the new world of disruption?

That’s the reality of manufacturing today, and that will be the focus on my keynote next week when I open the Canadian Manufacturing Technology show in Toronto, Canada.

The reality of our future is found in the quote above, and in this video clip here:

The folks at Canadian MetalWorking/Canadian Fabricating and Welding, reached out to me for an advance look at some of the topics and issues I’ll cover in my talk.

 

Seek Out Opportunities for Innovation
Canadian MetalWorking, September 2017

When reinventing manufacturing, the reality is that manufacturers need to focus on new business models with agility and flexibility while quickly raising up production. If the manufacturing sector in a particular nation wants to be the leader in the industry, it must start to think like a tinkerer economy by accelerating change.

This is the view of futurist Jim Carroll, who espouses the concept that prototyping and concept development will continue to mature in the near future, all while becoming more and more important to the manufacturing sector.

He says by building flexibility into the process, manufacturing companies can bring new technologies and new generations to the market faster than ever before and seeing their profits skyrocket.

Canadian Metalworking caught up with Carroll before his opening keynote speech at CMTS 2017. Here’s what he had to say.

CM: For a small and mid-sized Canadian manufacturing companies, where should they be in terms of technology adoption during this period of Industry 4.0?

Carroll: No. 1 they need to appreciate what is happening out there and be willing to accept that things are changing at a relatively significant speed. Some high-level trends such as robotics, digital factory, and 3-D printing may not be applicable for small industries, but this does not mean that they should not be aware that these trends can affect the future of their industry. Understand what is happening out there and start small.

There are a lot of opportunities out there, for instance, if you take 3-D printing, there are a lot of contract 3-D printing facilities. Last week I was talking about a company that is positioning themselves like the Uber for 3-D printing. If you can conceive a product using your CAM software and ship them the files, they will find a 3-D printer with the [needed] capability and match you up with them so that you can do your prototype. Where 3-D printing is accelerating fairly quickly is in rapid prototyping design.

You might be a 100 person or smaller company, but you can certainly experiment with this technology to figure out what is going on, rather than thinking 3-D printing is something farfetched from science fiction, because it is not. The best thing is to think big, start small, and scale fast.

CM: Some companies are dragging their feet and are not integrating advanced technology into their operations. What sort of warning would you offer up to these manufacturing companies?

Carroll: No matter who you are or what you do, fascinating things are emerging out there regarding these significant trends. So, spend time figuring out what you can utilize today and tomorrow to turn it into an opportunity.

Will the world of manufacturing be fundamentally different in the next five or 10 years? Of course, yes, pushed by the whole issue with jobs skills.

There is no shortage of employment in manufacturing. It’s just that some people don’t have the right skills. For instance, robotics company Genesis Systems, one of the largest robotics manufacturing businesses in Iowa, said to me that it is almost like the typical robotics machine operator in a factory today has to be able to do trigonometry in their heads because it has become so sophisticated.

Brute force, manual routine skills are from the older days. All jobs now require higher level skills. If you are a manufacturer, you have to appreciate what is going on and what it is going to mean regarding the skills you have and the skills you are going to need.

CM: How does the changing pace of technology in a manufacturing environment change the way that these companies maintain and improve their employees’ skills levels?

Carroll: It is generational. There are a lot of baby boomers out there that struggle with technology. Growing up with a punch card, we grew up with a unique relationship with technology. My kids that are 28 and 24 are different, having never seen the world without the Internet. These new generations that are coming to the work force think differently and act differently.

Skills Canada and Skills USA have the initiative to help young people find a career path in skilled trades. Last year I opened their global competition in Saõ Paolo, and they have [hundreds of] kids competing in 75 categories in 400,000 sq. m of space. Advanced welding was among one of the competitions. They have folks who demonstrate virtual welding, how with technology in one room and can theoretically weld from a facility 1,000 miles away. So, get involved with Skills USA or Skills Canada. In the end, it all goes back to understanding what is going on out there and appreciating the acceleration of technology to make a conscious decision to get on board.

CM: Can you provide an example of an organization that is embracing Industry 4.0 and is a good example of manufacturing’s future in North America?

Carroll: I saw this when I was at Amsted Rail in St. Louis, which offers engineered system solutions that combine castings, bearings, wheels, axles, and energy management devices. They always think about what they can do in terms upgrading their technology.

Amsted Rail is frequently bringing new employees from younger generations and set up what they call an “Xboxer,” which means that they let these mid-20s engineers play with all this new technology and figure out how to bring in this new technology into the operation.

CM: Do you feel optimistic about this state of manufacturing in North America given the examples you provided with this mid-sized companies looking at their business at a different way?

Carroll: Things like collaborative robotics, digital factory, and additive are going provide a significant transformation of what manufacturing is. The rest of the world is going to go there, and you are not going to slow down the acceleration of science and the technology. There is a choice, either you get on board, or you don’t.

CM: What technologies do you think manufacturers should be keeping a close eye on?

Carroll: Two things. 3-D printing and accelerated material science will have the most impact in manufacturing for at least the next five years.

3-D printing is moving forward at a furious pace. For instance, there is one coming along called CLIP [continuous liquid interface production], which is almost out of the Transformers movie. Seeing that type of acceleration, what took something like 14 hours before now takes about 6.5 minutes with CLIP technology. Additive is real. It has a huge role now in rapid prototyping and iterative design.

Look at aerospace. Airbus and Boeing have figured out that they can 3-D print and develop parts of planes with a structure that are 40 per cent lighter. From that perspective, companies are starting to see what they can achieve with these fascinating new materials driven by science.

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"Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?"

“Who is going to fix the education system so that it works for me in the future?”

I was recently interviewed about the future of knowledge and careers. It was timely; my oldest son has just completed a college degree but is immediately pursuing another educational path at a community college.

Does this make sense? Most certainly.

Here’s an extract from the article.


Want to future-proof your career?
The Globe and Mail, By LEAH EICHLER,
Saturday, 03 September 2016
Life-long education and training are increasingly becoming a key part of staying relevant in the employment world

For many, this week marks a new chapter in their lives: the first week of university. Like countless students before them, those first few weeks are a flurry of experiences and opportunities that sets out the road to independence. However, that expectation that in four short years their education will be complete is rapidly becoming a relic of the past. Rather, they will be entering a professional world where in order to compete, they must embrace the ethos of life-long student.

Jim Carroll, a futurist and speaker based in Mississauga, describes the work force that students can expect to graduate into as one of “rapid knowledge obsolescence.”

To adapt, professionals will need to possess “just-in-time knowledge” and continue learning in order to have the relevant information at the right time to suit a specific purpose.

“We are never going to have the right skills and knowledge to do what needs to be done. The only way we will is to continue to reinvent ourselves, by updating our skills in order to maintain our relevance. We need to accept that as our reality,” Mr. Carroll said.

That’s why it made perfect sense to him when his son, who graduated in June from Carleton University in Ottawa with a bachelor of arts in physical geography with a minor in geomatics, immediately enrolled in a certificate program in geographic information systems at Ottawa’s Algonquin College.

Yet, it’s not only employees that need to adapt; universities, colleges and employers need to change their approaches to in order to stay competitive.

“Everything is going to change,” Mr. Carroll said. “Universities and colleges aren’t really prepared to give us what we need. Employers aren’t really in the right frame of mind either since they rely on old outdated hiring models and recruitment. Also, if you are a graduate, and you don’t have the right frame of mind that you need to continually maintain your skills, then you are wrong as well,” he said.

The key, suggested Mr. Carroll, is to emphasize skill sets rather than degrees, but how? It’s a problem that New York-based Markle Foundation has been trying to solve.

The Unites States, they observed, has a critical need for a skill-based labour market. There are currently 5.5 million job openings, but 6.5 million people are unemployed. They attribute part of this disconnect to the outdated methods employers use to vet candidates and discern skills.

 

…. In other words, just-in-time knowledge, or as one of Mr. Carroll’s favourite quotes from a well-known educator named Lewis Perelman put it, “learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.”

 

It’s that time of year when all kinds of media are running their ‘looking into the future’ articles. I took a quick call for an interview yesterday with The Sun UK newspaper, and this was the article that ran today.
UKBaby

“A baby born today faces life in a world riddled with debt. But this will be an entrepreneurial generation” says Jim in an interview with the UK Sun.

The Sun sits behind a pay wall, and the article isn’t available online, but I managed to dig out a copy. Click for the Pdf!

100 not out; HOW YOUR BABY WILL REACH ITS CENTURY
by Dulcie Pearce,14 December 2013

Around a third of children born today will reach the ripe old age of 100.

The Office for National Statistics has revealed that 39 per cent of girls born in 2013 will celebrate their centenary — and the boys are not far behind at 30 per cent. So if all goes well, they should be receiving their telegram from our future King George in 2113.

There are now 14,000 people in the UK who are 100 or over, compared with just 600 in 1961.

Deputy Sun Woman Editor Dulcie Pearce – with the help of futurist and trends expert Jim Carroll – looks at what our newborns face in their long lifetime.

HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE

11 – by this age our newborns are likely to have smoked

THE average life expectancy for a boy born today is 80 and 83 for a girl. They are very likely to try a cigarette by the age of 11 and have a one-in-six chance of becoming a smoker.  The most common birth weight is 7lb 8oz for a boy and 7lb 2oz for a girl.

Only 34 per cent of boys and 39 per cent of girls born in 2013 will be a healthy size in adult life.

The most common male cancer will be prostate, which now has a one-in-eight chance of developing. One in eight girls born today will be at risk of breast cancer.

Boys will have a one-in-four chance of breaking a bone from osteoporosis when they reach 50, and a girl will have a one-in-two chance. By the time they are between 40 and 70, more than half of the boys will have erectile dysfunction.

Jim says: “In the future, we will be able to work with DNA-based medicine, which does exist today. It will have a huge impact on the healthcare of the next generation.  They will be able to look at the DNA of a baby born today and deal with the medical condition they have even before it is even making them ill.”

LOVE AND MARRIAGE

31 – when they are likely to have their first child

ON average, the babies of 2013 will have their first child at 31. That is two years later than their parents and five years later than their grandparents. They are most likely to get married at 33 – and the 2046 wedding will set them back an eye-watering £39,000.

Jim says: “Only one in four now live in heterosexual, two-parent families. As we know, the ‘conventional’ family no longer exists.” A baby born today is more likely to live with ” a partner for much longer in a relationship.”

£39,000.- cost of their wedding at age 33

DEBT

52 – age today’s tots will clear their student loans

THIS generation will be paying their student loan until they are 52 and their mortgage until 61.

Jim says: “A baby born today faces life in a world riddled with debt. But this will be an entrepreneurial generation. They are coming into a world where their parents are internet savvy. So they will be seeing job opportunities and work through fresh eyes. They will acclimatise to the debt and – sad as it might be – they will see it as part of life.”

61 – when the mortgage is finally paid off

JOB

70 – when their first pension payment is received

THESE babies will not pick up their first pension payment until the age of 70 – and go on to enjoy 30 years of retirement. Jim says: “They will almost definitely work in a job that we have never heard of or has yet to be created. I predict that 65 per cent of children born today will work in a job that does not even exist yet.”

“It is not far-fetched to say that they could  be flying a plane from inside their house. We are living in an incredibly fast world and it will be an even faster one with the technology becoming even more advanced. ”

They are most likely to be self-employed. “Permanent jobs for companies are quickly becoming a thing of the past and they will soon become extinct. These children born today will either be working for themselves or working on short-term employment contracts.”

65 per cent – will be working in job that does not yet exist

Payback of longer lives

SUN Doctor Carol Cooper says: “Around half of today’s babies could live to 100 and beyond if the trend carries on. “Longer lives may mean more opportunities, but there are more challenges. Obesity and type 2 diabetes rates are skyrocketing.

“Over 65, around one in 20 will have dementia, but numbers may treble. There has been a seachange in cancer treatments and there’ll be many advances. More people live alone … life might not only be long, but lonely too.”

Wow! I’m gonna get a telegram from King George

Here’s some of the key trends that I see unfolding through 2012 and beyond.

My unique job allows me the opportunity to see and hear what a lot of CEO’s and senior executives in a lot of organizations are thinking about. The  nature of my keynotes and small board / leadership meetings allows me to understand what folks are focused on. The research I do, whether for a major manufacturing conference in Las Vegas or a small corporate meeting with an ice cream company allows me to see the key trends that are unfolding right now.

And so given this unique perch, here’s some of the most important trends which will play out in the year to come.

  •  Biz competes again. North American and Western European companies have lived with constant fear, with the rapid rise of China, the BRIC countries and the N11 on the world  stage. And yet, we’re now witnessing a scene from the movie 2010: “HAL-9000 – ‘What’s going to happen?’ DAVE – ‘Something wonderful.‘ My sense is that a wide variety of industries, from agriculture to manufacturing to industrial design have been going through a renaissance of thinking in the last few years, and have learned what they need to do to re-innovate, grow again, and aggressively return to local and global markets. Read my “Build-America” blog post for some of what I’m thinking here — and stayed tuned!
  • The rise of the tinkering economy. The future is once again being built in the garage next door. But this time, it’s the hyper-connected, innovation oriented tinkering economy which is driving things forward. Get used to phrases like “micro factories,” “hobby designers” and”personal factories.”  The future of design, business and manufacturing is being reinvented at collaborative idea factories such as Ponoko, Etsy and  eMachineShop.com. There’s a revolution underway which is being driven by a globally connected, creatively driven new generation of hobbyists, and the impact is going to be massive!
  • Relationships change. Everywhere around us, the relationship that we have in our lives with the things that surround is, well, changing. Our relationship with food is changing as mobile technologies come to influence what we buy, how we shop,  and how we track our food intake. Our relationship with our body is undergoing a change as we come to use those same mobile technologies to monitor our diet, track our blood pressure another vital signs. Our relationship with clothing is changing as embedded technology becomes a part of what we wear — think about GPS enabled shoes for Alzheimers patients and Zephyr’s smart-clothing — which can be used by athletes to track their performance. When relationships change, everything changes, and opportunities for growth and innovative thinking abound!
  • Generational re-generation: everywhere we look, there’s a massive generational turnover underway, with a change in ownership of organizations from slow moving change adverse baby-boomers to a younger generation that inhales change as a form of innovation oxygen. As family farms and ranches are passed on from father to son and daughter, the rate of adoption of new farming and herd management ideas takes on a greater degree of speed.  As older doctors and nurses who were weaned on the paper-heavy patient file head into retirement, they being replaced by new medical residents who are arriving in the clinic, operating room and by the hospital bed with their iPads, ready to plug in! A shift from change-aversion to change-is-the-greatest-drug is a trend that speeds up our world even more!
  • Revenue reinvention. Every company is coming to face the reality that they have to become just like Apple in order to survive. The fact that Apple generates over 60% of its revenue from products that didn’t exist 4 years ago might today be an aberration, but given the increasing velocity of business cycles, product innovation, the arrival of new business models, changing customer expectations, the impact of social networks and a series of other trends, and soon every organization will find itself in a reality in which constant, relentless reinvention of its product or service line will the crucial to future success.
  • The Dominance of Design. We’re on the edge of a massive new era of creativity, with a trend that we might even call the ‘IPad-ization of Life.’ All one has to do is look at the new Nest thermostat to realize that a new generation of brilliant creativity is about to remake our world. We’re not doomed to a future in which everything around us in the future is going to look just like it did in the past – Apple’s design influence is quickly going to impact everything around us – from the cars we drive to the lamps we use to the fridges we open, to the buses we catch. Clean, simple, easy interfaces and crisp, cool lines, But it’s not just the looks — its the fact that with this new era of design comes intelligence. Our future is going to look great , intelligent and interactive!
  • Chip-velocity! Moore’s law used to apply only to the computer industry. Yet the rule that the processing power of a computer chip doubles every year while its cost cuts in half is taking on new meaning, as your phone becomes a credit card, your car watches how well you drive on behalf of your insurance company, and your clothing talks to your doctor! All of a sudden, in the era of relentless, pervasive connectivity, innovation in every single industry speeds up when Silicon Valley takes over the innovation agenda!
  • Life beyond politics. While the US Presidential election and political turmoil will dominate the headlines for 2012, a new generation of leaders are focused on BIG THINKING, BIG IDEAS, and BOLD MOVES. There’s a realization that political gridlock is the new normal, whether its the Democrats and Republications staring each other down, or France and Germany looking at Italy and Greece with a mystified sense of stunned confusion. So while politicians fail to get things done, innovative organizations are casting their mind to the future trends which will really provide opportunity in the future. It’s fascinating — the future is back in vogue again! And the thinking that is driving it is that we aren’t going to fix the problems of the future by doing what we’ve done in the past. And if we do things differently with those problems – that’s how we’ll discover the next big opportunity. This is the new mindset driving activities in the world of energy, the environment and healthcare!
  • Leading locally. There’s something odd going on — as the world gets global, we’re all going local.  We’re seeing it with sustainability  and local foods; angst and anger at banks and moves to credit unions; and a new volunteerism – as unemployment grew to 7.6%, volunteer service grew by 16%! We’re seeing it with local business – a University of Pennsylvania study found that areas with small, locally owned business (<100 employees) had greater per capita income growth than those with the presence of larger, nonlocal firms! There’s a new focus on local co-ops — with more than 100 million people employed worldwide in some type of local co-op. Thats’ why its fitting that 2012 is the International Year of the Cooperatives, a business model that has stood the test of time for over 150 years. Where-ever you look, while we are thinking global, we’re acting local!
  • Strategy re-dos. The impact of all these trends? Executives quickly coming to realize that what they’ve been doing in the past isn’t to hold them forward into the future. It’s time to throw out all the old assumptions and try things that are new!

Here’s to 2012!

This is a long post.

Way back in 1997, I wrote a book called “Surviving the Information Age.” It’s now out of print, but a few copies are still at Amazon.

The book took a long look at the trends that would impact our future. I dug it out again today when CNN ran an article, “Say goodbye to full time jobs without benefits“, decrying the fact that with the recession coming to an end, we were seeing more jobs that were contract oriented rather than full time. Reading the article, it seems they see this as a shocking new trend.

D’uh! What planet are these people on. Countless people have been talking and writing about the significant structural change occurring in hiring practices. I’ve been speaking about it since 1987 when the New York Times wrote an editorial entitled “Tomorrow’s company won’t have walls.”

So in the spirit of going back in time, I offer up an extract from my Surviving the Information Age book, in which I wrote at length about the trend.

I think I’ll re-release the book as an e-Book. It’s uncanny how right it was.

Chapter 5 : From Surviving the Information Age, Jim Carroll, 1997

The world of business is going to be changed by computer technology, not only as a result of the interlinking of business computer systems – but through the emergence of brand new forms of corporate organization that are fuelled by the connections that computers permit between companies and people.

My own career experiences are similar to what many people went through with the recession and business upheaval of the 1980s and 1990s. A lot of people found themselves in circumstances that forced them to re-examine their lives and make some decisions with regard to their careers. Some responded marvelously and others did not.

In my case, I’ve discovered a new flexibility in my attitude towards work: I find that my attitude now is that I have to continually change myself and skills in order to keep one step ahead in the game. Since I don’t have a job, I have to constantly invent one – and make myself available as a temporary worker to any business on the planet.

* * * *

By understanding in general terms what is going to happen in the future in terms of new forms of business organization, you can prepare yourself to maintain your career — and hence your income — through a period of unprecedented change.

One of the most significant changes that is occurring is that the emergence of the wired world will result in a significant change in the relationship between a business organization and its employees.

In the good old days, there was a simple rule that the world of business operated by: people lived close to the place where they worked. Having a job meant that you got up every morning, went to work, put in your seven or eight hours and went back home.

With the wired world, of course, this is no longer true: the matter of location is quickly becoming irrelevant. With the explosion of telecommunication networks, fax machines, voice mail, e-mail and other methods of communication, the fact is that the work that people do is increasingly becoming accessible to the world of business from anywhere. You can expect this trend to continue. For all the hype and hyperbole, business is truly going global and will come to rely on the skills of people wherever they might be on the planet.

* * * *

Back in June of 1989, I read an article in the New York Times entitled “Tomorrow’s Company Won’t Have Walls.” The author did a wonderful job of putting into perspective the fact that traditional forms of business were coming to an end, primarily because of the expansion of global communication capabilities. The author foresaw that the world was already becoming one in which companies were more likely to hire expertise on a part-time, as-needed basis.

His prediction? In the future, because of increasing complexity in the business world, companies would find that they would need a lot of specialized expertise. And with ever-increasing sophistication in communication capabilities, they would find that they would be able to obtain this expertise not by hiring more employees, but by accessing that expertise from contract workers or consultants who happened to make their skills available through sophisticated telecommunications technologies wherever they might be.

Two years after I read that article, which caused me to begin to think about what was happening around me with the recession of 1990–1991, Fortune magazine ran a cover story called “The End of the Job.” The article predicted that we were entering an economy in which “jobs” are disappearing and in which people would make themselves available to companies for short-term assignments.

And by 1996, The End of Work, a book that focuses on the dramatic change occurring in our economy, rocketed to the top of the international best-seller lists. One of the key premises of the book? The economy of the temporary workforce is upon us.

In his book Job Shift, William Bridges (1994) coined the phrase “dejobbing” to describe this trend to non-standard employment. He says that workers are going to be more like independent business people (or one-person businesses) than conventional employees. They are likely to work for more than one client at a time and to move back and forth across organizational boundaries — being employed full-time for a period of time, then hired to do contract work, then hired to consult, and then brought back in-house (perhaps part-time this time) on a long-term assignment. He concludes that, although there will always be enormous amounts of work to do in our economy, the work will not be contained in that old familiar employment form of standard full-time, full-year jobs.

All these articles and books centre on two themes: the ever-increasing reliance on the temporary “workforce for hire” and a reduction in the duplication of skills throughout an organization.

Over time, companies will become leaner and meaner than they are today. They will be built around a small, core group of staff responsible for keeping the business running and will obtain the rest of their needed expertise through an ongoing and ever-growing reliance on contract workers. And specialized expertise need not be duplicated. In the old days, companies may have had a human resource expert for every division and every office location. Today, they can rely on one expert, or perhaps two or three, and make that talent available to the rest of the organization through e-mail and other methods.

These changes are real and aren’t science fiction. Take a look around your world, and I’m sure you can see the signs that it is beginning to happen. Fortune 500 organizations continue to shed staff at alarming rates, as the era of downsizing and rationalization continues unabated. You’ve either been directly affected or will be in the future.

* * * *

If you think about it, the wired world is the grease that is fueling this new type of corporate organization. The reason? With the explosion of communication capabilities, organizations can go out and access the expertise and talent of any number of people around the planet. Why hire staff when you can hire a temp? If you spend a bit of time thinking about the implications of this change, you will see that through the next decade some rather remarkable changes are in store.

  • The Number of Full-time Jobs Will Begin to Shrink Dramatically

The era of the job for life has clearly come to an end, and the concept of the job is becoming irrelevant as well. A new way of thinking is emerging in the corporate world, built upon a reluctance to increase staff levels, with the result that we are becoming an economy of consultants who sell their skills and talents to business on an as-needed basis.

It used to be that companies entered into an employer–employee relationship in order to obtain access to some type of specialized skill or knowledge. If the company needed a new marketing specialist, it went out and hired a marketing specialist. Then came the recession of the early 1990s. With the onslaught of restructuring that occurred, companies came to appreciate that it cost a heck of a lot of money to fire people, since severance packages had become quite expensive.

A new way of thinking began to occur in the corporate world, built on this logic: if we hire staff, we might have to fire them some day, particularly if we have another recession. It costs a lot of money to fire people. So why not hire people, not as staff, but on contract or as temporary workers? The role of the wired world? Guess what. A lot of those contract and temporary workers are found on the end of a telecommunications line.

  • Companies Will Hire the Best Talent They Can, Regardless of Where That Person Might Be

In the wired world, the only thing that counts is knowledge. If the knowledge is accessible from anywhere in the world, then companies will find themselves in the position of being able to choose the best talent and expertise they need to do a particular job from a group of global, skilled consultants.

The impact? A new era of career competitiveness is about to unfold as a number of highly skilled workers sell their capabilities and talents to a global audience of business organizations. The result? Marginal performance is no longer going to be good enough: in the new dog-eat-dog world of networked business, the old rule that those with the best skills and capabilities will be in the greatest demand will be even more true than it is today.

  • Lifestyle Choice Will Come to Dominate Career Decisions

Because they can supply their skills from anywhere through the tools of the wired world, this elite group of individuals will call the shots. They will make lifestyle decisions that will let them service their national and global client base from a rural electronic cottage, thus enjoying the fruits of the wired economy, at the same time watching their children grow up. A new era of career decisions based upon lifestyle choices is upon us. As we enter an economy in which location doesn’t matter, the natural result is that more people will choose to work from the places they want to, rather than where they have to.

  • Our Actual Work Location Won’t Matter

You can enhance your future career and job opportunities by adapting your skills so that they are marketable and accessible via the wired world. That simple rule, people lived close to the place where they worked, that I mentioned earlier is clearly and unequivocally changing as a result of the wired world, since you don’t need to be near your job in order to do the work!

On the other hand, we might consider that the rule hasn’t changed: people who have mastered the technology that lets them provide their skills to others, wherever they might be, live close to the place where they work — online!

The matter of location is quickly becoming irrelevant, with the explosion of telecommunication networks, fax machines, voice mail, e-mail and other methods of communication. The office of the future will look like your bedroom — because it will be.

As companies begin to rely more and more on outside expertise, the number of core employees required will continue to decrease. The impact on downtown urban areas will be dramatic. There will be fewer people working in office towers. The real estate industry has a phrase for this: “see through buildings.” That’s because they will be.

Guess what — the work force of the twenty-first century wears sweatpants, not suits, since they shop at WalMart, not Hugo Boss, for their day-to-day work attire. And while downtown real estate will suffer, the home improvements industry will expand, as people build a more comfortable home office environment.

If you really want to know what is happening in the world around us, talk to your letter carrier. She will tell you that her pack is getting heavier, year after year, because of the number of people working at home. Visit a local photocopy or office supply store at 10 in the morning, and you’ll find a variety of semi-scruffy professionals loading up on supplies or getting some copies made.

Today, 41% of Canadians have home computers, according to Statistics Canada. Not all of them are used solely for games and homework; an increasing number sit in the home office, tools with which the new home-based workforce is meeting the challenge of the changing business world.

You can ensure you are a survivor by understanding what it takes to build, manage and work in a home office and by getting into the wired state of mind.

  • A Generational Battle For Economic Control and Survival Is Upon Us

It won’t be easy. Our economic systems are increasingly characterized by baby boomers and the older generation, comfortable in their unchanging ways and who are now faced with a new, wired and technically sophisticated Generation-X. Increasingly, economic survival is dependent upon mastery of technology, and it should be obvious who has the upper hand in this game!

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