Looking into the Future: 21 new jobs of the next decade

Based on major macroeconomic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business and technology trends, we look at 21 new jobs that will emerge over the next 10 years and will become cornerstones of the future of work

Updated: Dec 14, 2017 11:16:58 AM UTC

Cognizant is one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operating and technology models for the digital era. Our unique industry-based, consultative approach helps clients envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in the US, Cognizant is ranked 205 on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most admired companies in the world.

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Work has been central to humans for millennia and shall always be. It has constantly changed to suit the times we live in. Over the next 10 years, tectonic shifts in technology, especially the rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), will see the emergence of new jobs never imagined before. Jobs that will seem odd to our parents may in time seem ridiculous to our kids too, as times change. The optimistic outlook is that though work has always changed, it has also always been with us. And will be.

Based on the major macroeconomic, political, demographic, societal, cultural, business and technology trends observable today, we take look at 21 new jobs that will emerge over the next 10 years and will become cornerstones of the future of work. These jobs have the potential to create mass employment, provide work for scores of people in offices, stores and factory floors and are not to be confused with science fiction. They are strongly expected to be on the human resource's radar to fill for real in the coming decade.

This list of jobs has been carefully curated from across many disciplines, markets and technologies with a three-point common theme that is centred on the human touch— Coaching, Caring, and Connecting—which will stay relevant, no matter what new technologies emerge on the horizon. ‘Coaching’ means helping people get better at things such as managing their finances. ‘Caring’ refers to improving people’s health and wellness. ‘Connecting’ refers to the bridges we form between man and machine, traditional and shadow IT, the physical and the virtual world, and commerce and ethics. Thus, these 3Cs explain why humans need technology as a means to a happy and efficient life, and not as an end in itself.

1: Data Detective: The data detective uses big data to see and explain the big picture. The successful candidate will “go where the data is” and pursue what the data says and help generate meaningful business answers and recommendations by analysing various sources.

2: Bring your own IT facilitator:
The facilitator will enable the entire workforce to work better and smarter by creating an automated self-service platform that lets users select the desired applications, as well as build virtual assistants to improve employee agility, productivity and engagement, while maintaining data control, security, governance and compliance.

3: Ethical sourcing officer:
The ideal candidate will head up the ethical sourcing team and will check the ethical integrity of every contract and its supply chain, design real-time experiments and review data to ensure supply chain integrity and corporate fit. They will also ensure that the allocation of corporate income aligns with the standards set by stakeholders (customers and employees), codified through the corporate ethics board.

4: Artificial Intelligence business development manager:
There is one thing AI cannot do, and will not be able to do for the near future — sell itself. Selling AI (whether in its “raw” compute form or packaged into a business service) requires human input and effort. AI business development professionals would be at the forefront of advances in computer science and business advantage.

5: Master of edge computing:
The winning candidate, a technologist, will build, maintain and protect the overall technology infrastructure for edge computing and establish the cloud-edge relationship by differentiating which data type should be stored where, ensure scalability, and will address geographical challenges in implementation.

6: Walker/ talker:
This will involve engaging real people (customers) in business conversations by tapping into one of the greatest sources of value only a human being can provide: empathetic listening.

7: Fitness commitment counsellor:
These remote counsellors will provide proactive, personalised and tech-savvy support, coaching and counselling sessions to help improve wellness for voluntarily connected clients who wear smart bands that monitor physical activity.

8: AI-assisted healthcare technician:
The successful candidate will be excellent at building close, trusting relationships with patients and efficient in making optimal use of the digital diagnosis tools and remote doctors at their disposal.

9: Cyber city analyst:
The role will ensure functionality and security of municipal digital systems by ensuring a steady flow of “healthy” data around our cities, and that technical and transmission equipment functions run without any compromise.

10: Genomic portfolio director:
The ideal candidate will be a seasoned business executive with a strong commercial background to create and execute strategy for growing a portfolio of life sciences products. The candidate will also work for the company’s future growth and ensure profitability of each of the new product groups.

11: Man-machine teaming manager:
This will involve defining roles and responsibilities and setting the rules for how machines and workers should coordinate to accomplish a task. The key responsibility will be to develop and manage an interaction system through which humans and machines mutually communicate and ways to translate consumer and employee needs and business strategies into machine experiences.

12: Financial wellness coach:
This will involve helping customers build their investment portfolios by leveraging the one thing that machines cannot provide: Emotional intelligence. The financial wellness coaches will help plan every step of clients’ financial goals with the help of technology.

13: Digital tailor:
The digital tailor will help customers order their perfect clothing online, at their convenience. The candidate will also offer advice and recommendations about styling, cloth choice, drape, etc., and offer value-added input into fashion trends.

14: Chief trust officer:
The officer will maintain a positive public image that holds the organisation’s financial and public integrity. The successful candidate will have experience in cryptocurrency trading and speculation, blockchain, traditional currency trading, and PR/marketing.

15: Quantum machine learning analyst:
The QML analyst will help create technology functionalities that never existed before by making quantum computing accessible through quantum algorithms and improving classical machine learning methods to address specific business problems.

16: Virtual store Sherpa:
The virtual store Sherpa will deliver the best instant virtual service and advice for customers by delivering heightened, instant, virtual customer service and advice for customers, with added savings.

17: Personal data broker:
The personal data broker will monitor all forms of personal client data created through various channels. The candidate will also be in a position to execute data trades on behalf of clients and track new ways of maximising a client’s return on data.

18: Personal memory curator:
The curator will help ageing patients recover and relive their memories by creating and delivering seamless virtual environments for them to inhabit.

19: Augmented reality journey builder:
The AR journey builder will collaborate with talented engineers and artists to create elements for customers to enjoy personalised AR experiences. The candidate will build the setting, mood, historical time, information, tone, characters and suggested things or experiences to buy, as well as provide clients’ favourite games, music and other recreations.

20: Highway controller:
The new age highway controller will manage the city’s space control centre, monitoring both automated road and air space management systems to ensure smooth, peaceful lives. The ideal candidate will be comfortable confronting occasional high-stress environments and be competent dealing with sophisticated AI tools.

21: Genetic diversity officer:
The genetic diversity officer will facilitate the profitability and productivity of the organisation, while fostering an environment of genetic inclusion. The goal is to integrate a workforce that includes genetically enhanced workers with those who have not. The role involves working with pathologists, legal and HR teams to ensure genetic inclusion across the organisation.

To imagine that some jobs will not go away due to automation, AI and intelligent machines is to engage in magical thinking. In addition, to suggest that many new jobs will not appear due to automation, AI and intelligent machines is to fall prey to a lack of imagination. While some of the suggested jobs are highly technical, others will not require much technical knowledge. Moreover, while some may insist that one day all jobs will be tech jobs, it seems certain that it will not be the case at least in the next decade. The jobs of the future reflect the fact that technology has improved things for humans, not robbed us of what we value most: our very humanity. When machines do everything, there will still be plenty for humans to do.

By Manish Bahl, Senior Director, Centre for the Future of Work, Cognizant

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