Bernardo M. Villegas
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Hottest Job Prospect for Millennials (Part 1)

          A recent business news report may contain a very important clue to what can be one of the hottest job prospects for millennials and centennials in the next decade or so.  It was reported that Union Bank, the most digitalized of Philippine banks, will be the first 5G-powered bank.  Combining 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enable Union Bank to better harness the always on, real-time data coming from devices which will allow prediction and anticipation of a customer’s preferences and behavior.  This is what the exciting new specialization is all about, data analytics.  In a recent report of the World Economic Forum entitled Future of Jobs Report, job trends expected during the 2018-2022 period in 20 economies and 12 industry sectors identified big data analytics as one of top jobs that will be in greatest demand.  Enabling technologies such as high-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence and cloud technology will significantly transform the job market in the coming years.  Emerging occupations such as data analysts, software and applications developers and e-commerce and social media specialists are set to grow from 16% to 27% of the employee base of large firms globally, while job roles currently affected by technological obsolescence are set to decrease from 31% to 21%.  In purely quantitative terms, 75 million jobless may be displaced by the shift in the division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms, while 133 million new job roles may emerge at the same time.

         In a study undertaken by Frost and Sullivan for the IT & Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), core offerings were identified in three areas:  Contact Centre Business Process Management (BPM), IT Outsourcing, and Non-Voice BPM services.  The Contact Centre subsection not only includes telephone services, but multiple components that form a modern-day contact center.  The services encompass other channels such as email, interactive voice response (IVR), website social media, short messaging service (SMS) web chat mobile applications, service kiosks, and video charts.  On the other hand, the IT Outsourcing subsection cover key components including infrastructure Services Outsourcing (ISO), System Integration (SI), Support and Training, IT Consulting and Application Development and Maintenance.  These are the two areas which are most subject to disruption by Artificial Intelligence robotization.  The voice-oriented BPM industry is where the Philippines is Number One in the world, followed by India.  Aware of the threat of robotization in the contact center market, industry leaders are beginning to focus on growing IT and non-voice BPM services as part of the national strategy so that the Philippines can be positioned as an IT-BPM hub rather than just a contact center destination. 

         Non-voice BPM services constitute two separate sub-categories, i.e., horizontal processes and industry-specific verticals.  Horizontal processes, that apply to either multiple or across all industries, include such services as finance and accounting (F&A) outsourcing, human resource outsourcing, procurement outsourcing and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO).  Healthcare, banking, government, TELCO, and media are part of the industry specific verticals that outsource services catering to a particular industry.  One of the major technologies that will shape the opportunity and delivery landscape for all these non-voice BPM services is big data and analytics (BDA) which refers to a data discovery process using techniques and tools to mine useful information or insights form voluminous sets of data (both structured and unstructured).  The primary goal of BDA is to assist organizations to use data more efficiently to make informed decisions in real time.  The process facilitates access to traditionally siloed data sources and uncovers previously inaccessible information.  BDA capabilities uncover patterns and detect anomalies across multiple data streams.  The process is made possible through software algorithms, computer programming and statistical modelling techniques to find valuable and timely correlations, resulting in action insights that can lead to more enlightened and effective business decisions.

         Among the top ten emerging jobs in the next decade or so, number one position is occupied by data analysts and scientists and number six by big data specialists. The others are AI and machine learning specialists, general and operations managers, software and applications developers and analysts, sales and marketing professionals, digital transformation specialists, new technology specialists, organizational development specialists and information technology services.    The top ten declining jobs are data entry clerks, accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks, administrative and executive secretary, assembly and factory workers, client information and customer service workers, business services and administration managers, accountants and auditors, material recording and stock-keeping clerks, general and operations managers, and postal service clerks.

         Big data and analytics are on the top of the list because of the substantial increase in data generation and the need to analyze/process such information to stay competitive.  The Frost and Sullivan research came out with the following facts and statistics to explain the impact of BDA on businesses of all sizes in the coming years:

         -More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race.

         -The number of smart connected devices is projected to grow beyond 50 billion by the current year 2020.

         -By 2020, roughly about two megabytes of new information will be created every second per human being.

         -By 2020, we will have more than six billion smartphone users globally

         -For a typical Fortune 500 company a 10% increase in data accessibility could result in more than US$65 million additional net income

         -To date, only 0.5% of all data is ever analyzed and used.

         The Philippines will see an exponential increase in the demand for data analytics especially because it is getting to be predominantly a service-oriented economy.  There is much talk about the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe).  The truth is, because of failed economic policies involving our industrialization efforts in the past, we may never catch up with our peers in East Asia in the development of the manufacturing sector, especially in the export-oriented industries.  We are, however, developing our services sector at a relatively advanced level as compared with our Asian peers.  We are among the top providers of BPO-IT services to the world.  Our banking and retailing sectors are not far behind in technological innovation as compared with their peers in Southeast Asia.  As the Government implements the Build Build Build program, our logistics sector can have a better chance of catching up with the more advanced stage of the supply chain industry of our neighbors. 

         As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Union Bank is already 5G-powered.  The other large banks will not be far behind in harnessing the power of data analytics to improve their knowledge of their customers.  The same can be said of the retailing giant SM and its subsidiaries that are spouting billions of information about buyers, borrowers, suppliers and other stakeholders which information is now being analyzed by a team headed by former Secretary of Trade and Industry Greg Domingo.  Our telecommunications companies like Globe and Smart are also generating countless data from the tens of millions of devices which Filipinos own and operate in record numbers.  That is why, even if we have hardly complete our first, second and third phases of the industrial revolution, we are poised to catch in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (a.k.a. digital revolution) as data analytics is increasingly embraced by both large and medium-sized business organizations, non-profit organizations and government institutions. (To be continued).