Millennials: The 4th Revolution & What it means for Your Future

Millennials: The 4th Revolution & What it means for Your Future

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I did indicate in my previous post that we should get on with Life Stage Goals – their identification, definition and achievement. However, half way through the first post, it occurred to me that, a peek into the future of our “Millennials” in the context of the ongoing 4th Revolution could serve as an excellent backdrop when discussing Life Goals.

There is a lot packed into this post – however, I have done it through a bunch of links to a few chosen reports which I believe could provide you an insight into what is popularly called the 4th Revolution. Reading what is hidden behind these links could well be your “how to guide” for adapting yourself to succeed in what will be an entirely new environment.

For want of a common definition of the term “Millennials”, I refer to our 2013-14 Economic Survey which says, India will become the youngest country by 2021, with 64% of its population in the working age group of 20-35 and companies  need to shape their strategies (We too should, unless you want them to decide for you) in order to remain relevant to this section, called Millennial or Generation Y.

The figure (From Wikipedia by Christoph Roser at below elegantly demonstrates our transitions, with the current one being from the 3rd to 4th.

The challenges faced by the Millennials, attributed to the Fourth Revolution will I am confident, eventually get resolved.

After all every economic revolution posed an entirely new set of challenges, resulting in a paradigm shift in the way we lived, worked and conducted commerce – not only were those overcome but in doing so, the human race actually prospered in the process. I don’t see why it should be any different this time!

Morgan Stanley says about India’s Millennials,“The youth of this generation are better educated, better connected to information, and better connected to the world than their predecessors in prior generations”. CLICK HERE for the Report

However, capable they may be, the Millennials will as the transitional generation end up bearing the brunt of this change.

New technology will change almost every aspect of our lives and business models; the extent of which completely boggle my baby boomer mind.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics combined with the internet
Renewable energy and high storage batteries
Driver less transportation (expected to be 75% of all transportation in 10 years)
3D Printing
Planetary travel, space colonization, mining in space, teleportation? Let’s not even go there!

Advanced automation of even complex and analytical tasks will happen with AI and robotics.

Oil related industries and economies are already creaking from strains of price discounting (future drop in demand) and the ever increasing diversion of capital to build capacities to generate and store energy from renewable non fossil sources. Lithium, the critical ingredient for batteries may soon replace oil and upset many a geopolitical equation.

Driver less transportation will completely change our supply chain logistics and 3D printing could well make many of our manufacturing business models to stand on their head. The pharma industry could face a total revamp following path breaking discoveries in genetics, whilst the automobile industry may need to completely reinvent itself as electric cars become commercially viable. I shudder to think of the collective impact of all this on our stock markets. Just the other day, I read that the iconic TIME magazine had been (sadly) shut down – it could simply not adapt itself to the world of digital publishing.

Artificial intelligence especially “self-learning computers” may leave for us humans, only those jobs which machines cannot do. The “middle-class” which occupies almost 60% of this work pyramid will get impacted the most – accountants, journalists, lawyers, teachers will face redundancy. Those jobs (like a surgeon’s) which are skill based and do not need high levels of emotional intelligence and social manipulation can get easily computerised. Any job which involves a lot of routine and repetitiveness will be first on the chopping block.

After being blinded by its hype over the past decade, it’s only now being (reluctantly) accepted that, the 4th Revolution will result in an upheaval in the global employment market. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that, there will be no jobs – only that, the people who lose jobs in the changes taking place may not have the skills required to fit into the new jobs. Also, there will be far fewer jobs – something already showing up in what is being called as a “job less economic recovery”.

The Intuit 2020 report, although slightly dated remains relevant in the insights it provides and still makes useful reading.  CLICK HERE for the Report    It estimates that more than 40% of the American workforce, or 60 million people, will be independent workers — freelancers, contractors, and temporary employees. Why? Because people will no longer be tied to a work location. Nowadays, I hear a lot about “working from home” and cannot help but wonder how someone can get paid for staying at home. Well that’s what the future seems to be “Working on the cloud”!

A new report by McKinsey & Co. covering 46 countries and over 800 occupations says, as many as 800 million workers worldwide may lose their jobs to robots and automation by 2030 – this roughly about one fifth of today’s global work force. The good news is that, it will happen slowly giving us time to adapt and retrain ourselves because we humans will still be required in the work force.  CLICK HERE for the Report

The other day, I read about tourism and entertainment (sports included) being considered as “Sunrise industries”; because, with machines doing a lot more, we humans are expected to have a whole lot of spare time on our hands. However, activities like looking after the sick and aged, home making, parenting and creative work will also gain in significance.

It is expected to see a boom in entrepreneurship, among other things in personalised services and products with the advent of 3D Printing. I wonder how long will it be to challenge our conveyor belt production methods that manufacture standardized products “in anticipation of demand”. I will leave it to your imagination to work out the impact such a change could have on our business and economy.

Sociologists are making a distinction between “jobs” and “work” because, whilst the jobs may disappear, work will always remain. Of course, its is not as easy as it sounds considering that, new ways of earning income will have to be created. Did you recently read about Bill Gates suggesting that, all robots should be taxed? That’s because, he believes such taxes will go to pay an “Universal Basic Income”. Some have even gone as far as announcing the demise of the existing economic order. Unsurprisingly, a matter for debate which is not in the scope of this post – The point however is that; The 4th Revolution, like with those which preceded it can be expected to extensively change, the way we think, live, earn and the skills we need to acquire in order to survive in that new socioeconomic scenario.

Nothing can be more relevant here than this famous Charles Darwin quote “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”

Skills in managing and collaborating with people will become critical. Imagine what would be needed to run a business if there were no offices and everyone was to work from home. One thing for sure, you will need to get pretty good with all the communications tech e.g. video conferencing, data sharing, e-mail and even your telephone manners.

Soft skills, problem solving, data analysis, ability to think creatively, conceptualize, plan, communicate and execute will get increasingly valuable. Professions which require human empathy (nursing, elder care, etc) will also get important.

2018 will see AI resources being put to more focused use for quality and productivity – the need to survive competition will soon get other businesses to join in the race. These new business models will be aggressively disruptive. Machine learning could make its appearance in basic human tasks which require some predictive decision making e.g. making and following appointments. This would enable computers to gradually move into areas that require exercising preferences and establish behaviors – admin assistants need to be very worried for their jobs.

At this stage, I would like to introduce you to a book that changed my life; rather the way I looked at it – The Empty Raincoat by Dr. Charles Handy.  

The book was prescribed reading at a management development programme, I was fortunate to attend almost about 15 years ago,

in ANZ Bank’s training retreat “Flower-dale” outside Melbourne (Australia). In hindsight, the book seems nothing short of being prophetic. The man’s genius could not only give him an accurate understanding of the future but also the ability to articulate his vision with such tremendous clarity. This book remains as relevant today for the guidance it provides – please do take the time to invest in reading it. CLICK HERE for the Book Review

As the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 says, “Apprehensive millennials: seeking stability and opportunities in an uncertain world”. I don’t blame them one bit.   CLICK HERE for the Report

So, what’s the future going to be for our Millennials?

A word of caution, I am not trying to play your friendly neighbourhood futurologist here – I am only trying to make sense of the many pieces of this huge puzzle. I am only saying – Don’t get swept away by the change – take control and make your way through this maze.

Its important to read up and attend seminars, to understand the 4th Revolution and find the skill sets you need  in order to remain valuable to your employer, relevant to your business and society. Working up a “Side Hustle” could prove very useful just in case you were to get fired.

You cannot stop, disrupt or avoid this change which is sweeping across the world – Accepting it is the first step.

I am a great believer in the core idea of “Stoicism” (credited to Epictetus a Greek Philosopher) which asks us to be aware of what we can and cannot control because, then we can do away with the emotional drain of struggling to change those things we cannot and concentrate our resources on managing stuff which we can control. Believe you me, it will save you a lot of heart burn and mental agony.

Will it be good, bad or ugly ? Well does it really matter ? Did we not say the future is uncertain? Lets agree to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  CLICK HERE for my post – On planning in an uncertain future

Thankfully, the Millennials themselves (as per the Deloitte Survey) tend to have a broadly positive opinion of Gen-Z (those currently aged 18 to 20 or younger). Maybe because of perceptions that they have strong information technology skills and the ability to think creatively. That is very good news in itself because, it gives me enormous hope for the future.

Here’s an interesting graph from the Economist; which shows US employment by sector in percentage of total employment.

I will leave you to think about it on your own.

To adapt is the only mantra for survival * Start investing time and money to prepare for the future * IF there ever was the most appropriate time to take “Life Planning” seriously – it’s now!

Series on Life Goals – Their identification, definition and achievement.


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