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AI, Blockchain and The 4th Industrial Revolution: What’s in store for contracting?

AI, Blockchain and The 4th Industrial Revolution: What’s in store for contracting?

Tech experts are predicting that by 2020 the impact of new technologies, such as AI and blockchain, will be felt like never before. Although these so-called ‘disruptive technologies’ have been around for a few years now, their combined capabilities are beginning to be felt across all industries. In this article, Contracting Scout takes a look at how these emerging technologies are creating a 4th industrial revolution that’s changing the business landscape for good.

What are these new technologies?
Simply put, AI is the theory and practice of building machines that can perform intelligent tasks. ‘Machine learning’ refers to the capability of machines to adapt and evolve processes based on the data that is inputted. Blockchain, meanwhile, is an encrypted database that stores information across a secure network of computers. Despite its widespread association with crypto-currency, blockchain technology can be used to record any transaction of value.

While AI and blockchain have made significant changes to specific industries, the integration of AI into blockchain and vice versa is beginning to change the way we live and work in increasingly tangible ways. For example, The Internet of Things (IoT) is the term used to describe the interconnectivity of all things (including people and devices) via the Internet. While AI enhances the ability of these ‘smart’ devices to independently exchange data and communicate with each other, blockchain technology increases the security of all these billions of connections. This has allowed major advancements in areas such as cloud computing.

What will be the impact of these new technologies?
The combined effects of new technology will make fundamental changes to the world’s labour force and the skills that are required. Just as previous industrial revolutions have replaced the need for human labour in some sectors, the need for repetitive manual labour or mid-level clerical work based around repetitive tasks will continue to decrease. The roles that are least at risk fr0m new technology are those that require specialist skills or face-to-face interaction at each either end of the spectrum. Specialised manual work such as construction and catering will still be in demand, as will work that requires a high level of training and education, such as computer programming and medical professionals.

How can contractors safeguard their careers?
A recent industry study showed contractors are more likely to take the initiative to stay up to date and “skill proof” their careers against factors that could affect their futures. Almost three quarters of self-employed workers described themselves as responsible for acquiring new skills compared to 62% of employees. It’s important for contractors to evaluate both their skills and the sector that they work within in order to best adapt to the challenges and opportunities that new technology will bring about. In order to do this, contractors can:

  • Develop a social media network relating to your sector. Networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to closely follow business developments and engage in relevant industry discussions.
  • It’s equally useful to inform yourself on general news and current events. Like all business, the contracting sector is heavily impacted by external factors such as politics and economics.
  • Create relevant news feeds to your email that are related to contracting and also your particular industry by specifying relevant keywords.
  • Look at courses that will diversify your service offering, as well as actively developing more specialist skills and soft skills based around face-to-face human interaction, such as communication and mediation.
  • Devise a strategy to target specific clients, such as hypergrowth companies where skilled contractors are in particular demand.

Which contracting sectors will most benefit from new technology?
The proliferation of blockchain and AI across so many industries is already creating a growing need for skilled technical workers. The technologies in this area are advancing quicker than engineers are able to learn how to develop them. As such, there aren’t enough people with the relevant expertise to fill the growing number of vacancies. This presents a huge opportunity for contractors with relevant knowledge to capitalise on this growing skills gap.

Although increasing demand for contractors in the tech sector is inevitable, businesses across all sectors are using new technology to innovate new products and services, and to target new markets. Some of these new business startups are achieving ‘hypergrowth’ (growing at an annual rate of over 40%), with an urgent demand for the scalable skills and expertise that contractors can provide. Taking a proactive interest in the wider impact of these new technologies can also benefit contractors in the legal, financial and communications sectors.

Contracting Scout can offer information on all aspects of your contracting career – to speak to a member of our team, call: 0203 603 1878

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