Who could have imagined twenty years ago the ICT industry we have today and the possibilities it offers? Who could have imagined that mobile technology has the potential to help put an end to extreme poverty and hunger, whilst providing universal access to healthcare, secondary education and energy services? That smart solutions can make our cities more sustainable, safer and more inclusive and help combat global climate change?
Just as the invention of the printing press or the steam engine changed the way we document knowledge or transport goods and people, ICT is profoundly changing the way we work. And, as with all previous technological revolutions, this will lead to a redefinition and redistribution of jobs. Through automation and the Internet of Things, some jobs will be made obsolete while others will increase in number and new, as-yet unthought-of, jobs will be created.
“Jobs exist now that we’d never heard of a decade ago. One estimate suggests that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that aren’t on our radar yet.” – argues the World Economic Forum in 10 jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.
Image:65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that aren’t on our radar yet.
Some observers are a little worried, though. Business expert Don Tapscott has repeatedly warned of the risks associated with increased integration of technology in society. “We’ve already seen knowledge work such as accounting and legal services being shipped offshore to cheaper employees. Soon the work will stay here but be done by computers," he writes. Elsewhere, 3D-printing professional John Hauer shared recently that he believes technology “will eventually make work obsolete.” He warns of the day when automation eliminates the need for human labour in the printing industry altogether.
Meanwhile, Harald Edquist, Master Researcher in Macroeconomics at Ericsson, has been researching the impact of ICT on employment and concludes that, "while the number of manufacturing jobs involving “routine physical work” may be decreasing, the share of ICT specialists in total employment is increasing. Moreover, ICT specialists are increasingly needed outside the ICT producing industry. It is only in North America that the employment to population ratio has decreased since 2000. In all other regions of the world the employment to population ratio increased from 2000–2015. Thus, there is little evidence that ICT should be driving a worldwide downturn in employment.”
As detailed in the new Ericsson City Index Report, in which we describe how investments in ICT drives social and economic development, in a more connected world competition will increase and new business models are expected to emerge. The business sector will be expected to step out of traditional models and mind-sets and face new opportunities in the Networked Society.
By definition, technology is a tool for transformation. It is the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially when it comes to industry. We should embrace ICT as a tool for change because it has the potential to promote inclusive social and economic development for all. With more connections, more communication, more services and new behaviours in the Networked Society, we will be able to create a positive legacy for the generations to come.
Reflections by Ericsson
Learn about the latest telecom, datacom, IT, media and IoT trends with these articles from Ericsson technology leaders. They will share insights and reflections about architecture, design, research, security, standardization and strategy.
VP and Head of Research, Ericsson
Sara Mazur is Vice President and Head of Research at Ericsson. Sara completed a Master’s degree in science, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, and is also an appointed Associate Professor in Fusion Plasma Physics – all at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology. Sara was previously Head of System Management within Ericsson’s Business Unit Networks, focusing on unit-wide technology, research coordination, and strategic management. She has held many other management positions and is a dedicated driver of the development of the telecommunications industry with 69 granted patents. Sara has authored several academic papers and is a co-author of the book Handbook Of Antennas In Wireless Communication (CRC Press, 2001).