Future Friday: The effect of technology is different than many expected

by Michael Haberman on January 6, 2017 · 2 comments


Thinking about the future will improve you value to your company.

Thinking about the future will improve you value to your company.

I woke up this morning to the news announcement that Macy’s was going to move forward on their layoffs and store closings as a result to this lackluster Christmas season. Macy’s says it is eliminating more than 10,000 jobs and plans to close 68 stores after a disappointing holiday shopping season. ”Macy’s Inc. pointed to changing consumer behavior and said its performance reflects the challenges that are facing much of the retail industry” according to an article in The Day. Probably the largest reason for this action is that their name is not Amazon.com.

Technology effect

When writers started talking about the impact of technology and the use of robots, most thought they would see manufacturing firms suffer the most. Many thought that service sector jobs would be the fallback position for many employees displaced by technology displacement in the manufacturing sector. There were complaints that good manufacturing positions would fall to poorer service sector positions. The problem is that the service sector, aka retail sales positions, would be taken over by the technology of on-line shopping. The online shopping machine of Amazon has made 10,000 Macy’s workers unnecessary. The company does plan to invest in its digital business, a move that certainly won’t save these jobs.

How might your business change?

Obviously more retailers are going to have technology change their business too. But if you are not in the retail business how is technology going to affect you? Wish I could tell you. That is something you need to determine. It is not just a matter of jobs that are redundant. It is also a matter of how your consumer is changing their behavior. For example, cab riders are opting for Uber. Uber is opting for autonomous driving cars. Thus, the companies that make cabs, the cab companies themselves, the cities that make money off of medallions (permits for cabs), and the companies that make cars for the standard driver all stand to have their businesses altered by technology.

Put on that thinking cap and start considering the following:

  • How is your customer changing their behavior?
  • How is your employee changing their behavior?
  • How is your industry changing?

Those may not be easy questions for the HR person to answer. You are going to have to do some research. Talk to your marketing people. Talk to your product development people. Talk to your industry gurus or at least read their material. Get out and read beyond HR literature.

Take on the challenge of trying to understand what 2017 may look like beyond the immediate HR issues. Your value to the organization will increase through this effort.

Photo credit: MS clip art

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Miller-Merrell January 6, 2017 at 3:11 pm

Hi Mike,

I thought about this too when I heard the news about Kohl’s and Macy’s. About 95% of my holiday shopping this year was done online and I relied on Target and Amazon to get me through the holiday season.

Wal-Mart knows this and that’s’ the reason they purchased Jet.com which I think will make a difference going forward for them.

I’ve also been giving this a lot of thought for myself as I think about how blogging, content and also HR has changed. It’s part of the business and important for us to think about in order to stay relevant. Enjoyed reading your blog today.

JMM

http://www.workology.com

Reply

Michael Haberman January 8, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Thanks Jessica, I appreciate the comment.

Reply

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