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Which industries are changing fastest?

Written By: - Date published: 8:13 am, May 26th, 2020 - 30 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags: ,

All sectors of our economy are affected.

But some are more likely to be changing faster and deeper than others.

It’s devastating. To lives, families, workers, children. A further support package from yesterday recognized this. But the effects are personal.

We’ve seen the government respond to some sectors: tourism, media, sport, health. And of course infrastructure.

Some will alter completely.

I’m keen to hear how your industry is altering, how deep are the changes, its effects on you and people around you.

In your working day and professional field, what is the future you see?

30 comments on “Which industries are changing fastest? ”

  1. Sacha 1

    Not personally involved, but here is an interesting twist: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/121595580/project-to-explore-turning-waste-into-hand-sanitiser

    Grape marc is the stems and seeds leftover after pressing – which in Marlborough can total as much as 46,000 tonnes of waste per year.

    The study would look to turn winery waste into ethanol. Any sanitiser made in the initial eight-month study would be bottled and donated to Marlborough health workers and first responders.

  2. RedLogix 2

    The death of the open plan office; companies are discovering that most people are more productive working from home. Far less business travel, more webinars and portal meetings.

    The big automation vendors are planning for a world where there is an increasing incentive to use direct manufacturing labour more efficiently and safely. Supply chains are being relocated back to local regions, and at the same time being upgraded to be more efficient and meet higher environmental standards.

    The past decade has seen the operations floor and office tech platforms converge; the next decade will see a dramatic expansion of applications in this space. We are already seeing new plant being fully simulated in software before anything is built. High fidelity models enable engineers and operators to fully predict performance and scenario train systems before they are even built. This will progress to the point where manufacturing will be highly virtualised, reducing the physical presence of people in plant down to the minimum needed for maintenance.

    The words resilience and redundancy, long the concern of geek level techies, is creeping into the board room. In high entropy environments, the ability to recover from disruption and damage will become a massive driver everywhere, from the physical chain through to the people and commercial domains.

    Safety technology (a specialised sub-field in it's own right) will become more mainstream, driving reliability up and risk down. Every device short of your bootlaces will get an IP address, pushing a flood of new low level data into the system.

    Data analytics is being already expanded to ensure on-target performance of every component and step of every process. Everything is tracked, and this is expanding across the whole life cycle of products and processes. Analytics will go from a niche high end application, to absolutely essential everywhere by the end of the decade, and merging with application specific AI. While this will eliminate a certain class of human labour, general AI will prove a failed dream. People will always be needed to drive the goals and adaptations necessary.

    Additive manufacturing is slowly emerging from the hype valley, metal 3-D printing is maturing and it's correct applications are becoming better understood. It will layer on top of existing subtractive manufacturing and new generations of materials to deliver sophisticated designs at low cost. In the long run the cost of all technology drives towards zero.

    Population growth is ending; simply getting larger in order to build market share is no longer the goal. Profit in the future is going to be all about products and services that are simpler to use, more sophisticated, enduring, reliable and move toward closed loop resource lifecycles. The human race is de-cluttering, things will no longer signal status or desirability, we will start to see them as burdens to be reduced to the extent possible. Intelligence, creativity, the ability to do math, to socialise skillfully and connect deeply with others that will become the hallmark of progress in this coming century.

    I strongly believe that technology is the pre-cursor to social change, the enabler that frees up time and energy, that gives us the space to reshape our societies. In my working lifetime I have seen industrial automation move from a backroom Cinderella space, confined to obscure tech performing very application specific tasks … through to a full convergence with the information and communications world. From a manufacturing perspective this will completely erase the boundary between white collar and blue collar work in the long run.

    COVID is compressing the timeline down from decades to a few years.

    • Sacha 2.1

      A relevant NZ-developed solution: https://www.xsol.com/

      Design-led and systems thinking are crucial for future high-value enterprise. Where is the investment in training for them now?

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        I hadn't spotted XSol before … they look a perfect example of the kind of innovation I had in mind. They're clearly arriving in this space from the business automation end of the game, but they do look like they've gotten their heads around the convergence that has happened in the operations domain.

        As for training; if you have young relatives do your best to encourage them to maximise their maths proficiency. Or any STEM subject for that matter. The good news is that the internet has made fabulous, high quality math education so much more accessible. Hardly a day goes by when I don't lament that people like 3Blue1Brown was not around when I was struggling with math 40 years ago.

        I'm mindful of the potential for the hi-tech/lo-tech divide to only grow larger, and we may need to start thinking how we can move beyond the 20th century model of just redistributing income. A UBI is of course a logical starting point, but we really need to start thinking about what a society would look like if it was to resolve the ancient tension between individual agency, and the power of a collective unity of purpose.

        • roblogic

          Products like XSol or Aha! remind me of RAD software packages that were "so simple to use" that they would eliminate professional software developers, and let anyone write in a simplified "business language". Bwahahah. That reminds me, COBOL was such a language once.

          That said, it seems likely that AI will begin to disrupt the knowledge economy in our lifetimes. We have gone from offices filled with forms and memos and humming typewriters, to paperless and online forms in about 2 decades. Perhaps the next thing to go will be office workers. Even lawyers and doctors could find AIs supplementing or supporting their work…

          • Sacha

            Xsol has been quietly helping actual businesses run and improve for a couple of decades now. Making it easier to tap into the wisdom on the factory floor is a key feature.

      • roblogic 2.1.2

        Corporate culture in NZ has a long way to go to embrace systems thinking. At the moment it's lip service only to green values and codes of conduct; the bottom line of a profitable quarter is always the priority. I think there's a cargo cult mentality when hiring skilled workers, we don't value homegrown as much as people with glamorous foreign portfolios.

        Valuable twitter thread here, about our cultural blind spots and things to work on:

    • patricia 2.2

      RedLogix all of which may hopefully be better for the planet.

    • Ad 2.3

      Thankyou Red for your thoughtful and insightful response.

    • Infused 2.4

      I've tested working from home alot. Works fine in the beginning and tapers off.

      Far easier to manage staff in one spot. All my staff reported they want to get back to the office as they miss the interaction.

      Working from home at least in a permanent basis is not going to stick around imo

      • RedLogix 2.4.1

        I agree that working from home will not suit everyone. My last full time employer was based in Ballarat and had skilled technical people living in Melbourne, Geelong and Bendigo and quite a few of these people worked from home two or three days a week and had been doing so with great success for years.

        But Wednesday was always an onsite for everyone day so that we could maintain the interaction. I agree that the office/worksite isn't likely to go away anytime soon and that face to face is still essential to some degree.

        But many of the professional/technical people most suited to remote working are also people who already have decades of experience and their habits and mental staging are all built around getting up, putting on the work clothes, commuting and fitting into the drama of the office. Remote work requires a whole bunch of other skills and adaptations.

        For instance virtual meetings demand quite different skills and disciplines. I've done a few that were awful, everyone assumed they'd be the same as a normal meeting around a table. But they aren't in many subtle ways. It's a good idea to start with very small numbers of attendees in order for people to build up their skills without wasting a lot of valuable time.

        Another subtle advantage accrues to us introverts who are usually at a disadvantage in the normal face to face world; online just works better for us as we can control the pace and precision of the interactions without extroverts blasting right over the top of us as usual. cheeky

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    Um, ask an economist? Yeah, nah. Perhaps the Grant will have a brainwave & organise a colloquium of economists to crowd-source their collective wisdom?? You know, like whitebait netting in a bad season – wait long enough you may get a handful of critters with tiny brains.

    Well, really, how else is he gonna mastermind the coalition economic recovery plan? Out of this own head?? Come on. Pull the other leg, it's got bells on. Treasury? Could work if the Rogernomes have been cleaned out.

    Asking commentators here to report on their professional future is admirably audacious but I predict few worthy responses. Most people can't even see the present clearly. Expecting them to go further is too much too soon.

    If I still had a media career I'd see a future in niche marketing. That was actually evident to me while I was still working in the TVNZ newsroom & Al Gore was promoting this new info superhighway thing (internet). TV3 had launched several years earlier, puzzling me by providing similar crap to TVNZ. Media execs just can't think outside lowest-common-denominator programming – yet people will always pay for quality media. Dork Central just needs to provide the method.

    • Ed1 3.1

      I think you have encapsulated your response to the question about your working day and professional field quite well, Dennis. Certainly things aren't what they used to be. I have been independent my whole life, living off what I have earned and saved, and that is how most New Zealanders lived. We paid for the old age pension with the extra 2s 6d in the pound tax, and don't let any of these so-called professionals tell you any different. We looked after those that had served in two World Wars and other conflicts, and the understanding from all parties was that we would be looked after in our turn, but it is disgraceful how the hospitals have been let run down; it isn't as if the politicians didn't know that the Great generation was now largely retired; the problem was that politicians started doing special favours for those that were generous; I'm sure you know what I mean. You are right about the media too – these days they also go for the highest bidder, with higher pay for the dirty work, but thankfully the worst of that got voted out. Now we have a vote on marijuana; I am confident I am not one of those whose brain has suffered; I presume you know the right way to vote on that one. Happy days. But after 9 years of money being what makes things happen, I do think every industry that finds its profits threatened – sorry workers employment threatened will be letting the government know what is needed in these special times, but if everyone could just be as self-reliant as our generation has been all would be OK, wouldn't it!

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        if everyone could just be as self-reliant as our generation has been all would be OK

        It was Jeanette Fitzsimons who imposed self-reliance on us as a kind of meta-concept for policy development, Ed. Along with her advocacy of the steady-state economy and the common good, it persuaded me she really was authentic (neither left nor right).

        Self-reliance is even more anathema to trad leftist thought than the other two. Totally opposite to encultured dependence on the nanny state.

        Beneficiaries remain resolute in refusing to form their own lobby group (correct me if I'm wrong, but I've never seen one show up in the media) for psychological reasons, I presume. Self-reliance can be taught? Not sure. Maybe we get born with that drive or not…

    • McFlock 3.2

      Except commenters here know more about what they do and how their industry has changed (both short and long term) than most economists would.

      Besides, even a few responses you deem worthy means you get something out of it. So yay for you.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Oh, and a comment on your chosen picture. I like how the focus is on access to education for young people. I like even better that there are no teachers included!

    The boy is clearly motivated to learn by getting the info for himself. However the picture also points to the missing ladder: infrastructure.

    A profound truth. Our archaic education system had evidently passed it's use-by date back when my lot were in it. Educational infrastructure needs total reconstruction. Lange's pretence at doing that only fooled some of the people some of the time, and it's now time for the real thing.

    So alerting us to the missing element (intelligent design of infrastructure) was a real smart move – wish all leftists were as clever as you…

    • roblogic 4.1

      Economic Armageddon is coming, we will need more infrastructure, more socialism, more democratic ownership of production, more openness to wisdom from outside our current cultural bubble.

      Capitalism is old tech and it’s going to be replaced by something more robust and responsive to our communities and ecological limits. If we don’t change, we die

      • Dennis Frank 4.1.1

        I see things that way too. Only quibble: socialism must be reinvented rather than recycled. Time to rethink it was early '70s though, and socialists still fail to concede the necessity of the task.

        Humanity the Titanic. Those who see the iceberg dead ahead keep suggesting a change of course. On the bridge the captain is resolute that his trajectory will sail straight past it – in this analogy the captain represents the global elites that own/operate the capitalist system.

        Two mainstreamer authorities advise some tweaking of the trajectory. Putnam goes for pulling the plug on the UN Security Council (which I wrote into Green foreign policy 30 years ago) and this:

        "it is time for a serious international debate on how the liberal economic system can be made to work better for more people. While there may be little consensus about what a reformed liberal economic order would look like, the current situation where 26 billionaires have almost as much wealth as half the world’s population is not morally acceptable or politically sustainable." https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/25-05-2020/a-new-geopolitics-will-emerge-from-covid-19-and-nz-can-be-at-its-forefront/

        Global debate on this point has been happening since the gfc 12 years ago but it's unreasonable to expect ivory-tower occupants to be aware of that.

        Reddell provides perspective of a (retired) Reserve Bank expert: "an aggressively easier monetary policy – interest and exchange rate adjustment more akin to what we usually see in severe recessions – and beyond that action on foreign investment regulation, tax, immigration, and competition in domestic services sectors." https://thespinoff.co.nz/politics/04-05-2020/rebuilding-a-shattered-economy-in-a-post-covid-world/

  5. Molly 5

    Good article by Murray Grimwood, on dig.co.nz (which I have never come across before): Steady State Economics: We've got some (systems) thinking to do.

    …Logic tells us that what we have been doing, is creating our problems. It suggests, then, that we need to be doing something other than what we’ve been doing. Logic also tells us that we will end up living at a sustainable level, whether we choose to go there proactively or whether we are forced there by our own resource-depletion and habitat-destruction efforts.

    To be as smooth as possible, this change has to be managed using a Systems overview. Single-topic approaches, at this stage, cannot be adequate – our approach needs to consider the big picture and have all the above factors weighted correctly. This is quite a task in the remaining time available, and considering the predictable push-back…

    Worth a look in regards to the context of this post.

  6. Maurice 6

    Get a Government job … the bureaucracy is self-sustaining and self-protecting.

    Get your family in to Government jobs.

    • Craig H 6.1

      Well, apart from the lower pay for same work and hours, and the restructuring every other week.

  7. Despite the gloomy picture painted by "Planet of the Humans" there is some exciting stuff happening in alt energy. Australia is building massive solar arrays and working on a high-energy-density system similar to hydrogen fuel cells. Tesla is about to announce some fancy new tech, some are speculating a "million-mile" battery (graphene? glass?).

    Also, outer space!

    • Tricledrown 7.1

      Sodium batteries maybe,Locally every business ,industry needs to look outside the square.Every employees ideas put forward as how to future proof jobs and industry.

      Japan bounced back from near complete destruction .

      The ferrets last fart was the name given to the Phoenix rising from the ashes,creative thinking with the limited resources.

      NZ needs to do a stock take get as many ideas put forward and the best and easiest projects backed by like a provincial growth fund like approach.

  8. McFlock 8

    A while back I discovered a 70 year old paper that was very similar to stuff I do today. They took 21 EFTE five years to do what I can mimick in about half an hour (including a cup of tea).

    And analyses that used to take me half a day to run now take ten minutes. But there's no shortage of analyses to run – quite the reverse, we're always under the gun.

    The biggest threat to my role is that you hire us to get information to do the job right, whereas in harsher economic conditions the funds just go to doing the job ok while you can.

    Working from home was not a winner, and zoom is not the same as a meeting in my experience. Anything that can be communicated over zoom can be emailed. The most valuable stuff, especially at conferences, is "oh, Danielle, have you met Jim? You've both been looking at similar issues".

    I do figure that there will be UI advances so that researchers will be able to "push the big red button" and get the outputs they want, which will eventually do me out of a job. So I'll probably end up going into data warehouse/infrastructure management. I'm already the guy who translates what the team wants into nerdese for the IT folk. There will be more of that in the future.

    • roblogic 8.1

      Well yeah the scope of automation tools just continues to grow (eg. KarateDSL, Docker and CI tools like GoCD). I have saved my employers tons of time and money by the judicious use of shell scripts. It's so sad to watch people do stuff manually (e.g. counting data) or even using Excel, when there are far more powerful tools around. I guess you gotta know how to use them though.

      • McFlock 8.1.1

        There's still a big gap between the people who want specific information to inform their role and the knowledge to extract that information from diverse and inconsistent datasets.

        Excel isn't too bad, but it doesn't deal with large datasets. We use it for some smaller sets, and pretty pictures. I don't know bash script, tend to use things like matlab or sas or direct sql database queries for larger sets and more complex analyses. Fecking hate R, don't have the vibe for it.

        But I can churn out analyses for researchers who want to study something without learning scripting languages, or decyphering data dictionaries. That's the gap that will get closed out with things like dashboards linked to live databases. Rshiny, Crystal reports, etc. I'm going to be phased out by webdevs lol.

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