Month: January 2016

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is on its way! What does Ashtabula County need to do to get ready?


Last week, more than 2,000 leaders from business and politics gathered at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting to discuss the Earth’s most pressing issues.

Top of this year’s agenda is WEF’s report on The Future of Jobs  introducing the idea of the coming “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

A Fourth Industrial Revolution

With the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – a term coined by World Economic Forum founder, Klaus Schwab – developments in robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing and nanotechnology are predicted to seriously disrupt the jobs market as we know it.

The Future of Jobs suggests that between now and 2020, a combination of job creation, job displacement, heightened labour productivity, and widening skills gaps are likely to result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs.

The majority of losses are predicted to be in routine white collar office functions, manufacturing and production roles, with significant job creation in computing, mathematical and engineering related fields.

A polarised debate around what such disruptions might mean has been gathering momentum in recent years, simultaneously predicting utopia and catastrophe.

At one pole is Uber CEO, Travis Kalanik, who predicts limitless opportunities in yet to be conceived job markets, and greater productivity “freeing up” workers from routine toil.

At the other pole, Stephen Hawking has warned of an explosion in inequality and undermining of democracy, which will reduce the majority to lives of misery.

This camp says tech pioneers, investors in new technologies, certain scientists and certain nations will benefit, while workers, people and nations already partially excluded from the global economy, and potentially even the middle classes in richer nations, will lose out.

Whichever camp you fall into, it’s clear that the outcome will be determined by actions taken now.

Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the common good

The authors of The Future of Jobs echo the advice of MIT-based academics, Brynjolfsson and McAfee – that lifetime learning and continued training and retraining are key  – including government intervention to support these changes: an action plan which President Obama  alluded to in his State of the Union Address earlier this month.

Meanwhile, others have identified this as an opportunity for more systemic change that could take us closer to a new economic system in which everyone’s needs are provided for within planetary boundaries.

An array of interesting suggestions have been made to date, including provision of a Basic Income Guarantee or Universal Basic Income, or transition to a post-capitalist global society involving liberation from work.

If predictions about disruption to the employment landscape are correct, exploring the viability of such options isn’t just a political imperative – it could also be in the economic interests of those who stand to benefit most from the predicted changes.

After all, without a class of consumers able to purchase products, those who own the technology could find themselves without customers and therefore without an income.

In Order to Change Habits, You Need to Change How You Think About Yourself

Great article from Government Executive.

Every January, there are a slew of articles about how to commit to New Year’s resolutions. But many of these stories simply scratch the surface when it comes to habit formation, focusing on performance, appearance, and external motivation. In her latest book, Better Than Before, author and happiness guru Gretchen Rubin explains that the secret to developing successful habits cuts deeper, beginning with acute self-awareness and a willingness to let go of one’s identity.

“If you change your identity (the type of person that you believe that you are), then it’s easier to change your actions,” Rubin writes.

She opens her chapter about self-knowledge with a quote from Oscar Wilde: “One regrets the loss even of one’s worst habits. Perhaps one regrets them the most. They are such an essential part of one’s personality.”

The way we think about ourselves is essential to how we behave.

Rubin cites research from Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck on voting. Dweck and her co-authors discovered that those who had to consider whether they were “voters” (which connected the action of voting to identity) rather than if they’d be voting, turned out in higher numbers to the polls in the 2008 presidential and 2009 NJ gubernatorial elections.

According to Rubin, most people are characterized by one of four temperaments when it comes habits:

  • Upholders: respond well to inner and outer expectations
  • Obligers: respond well to outer expectations
  • Questioners: will question all expectations
  • Rebels: resist all expectations. For Rebels, who mostly resist habits, connecting habits to the identity that they want to embrace is the key to change.

“Think very hard about what you want for yourself,” Rubin tells Quartz. “When people try and fail, they’re not [pursuing change] in a way that’s right for them. Consider, ’What kind of person am I and is this right for me?’ and not ‘This is what Steve Jobs did,’ or ‘Everybody should get up early and run.’”

Pursuing change through sheer willpower is for amateurs; examine yourself, and real change will follow.

Huntington Acquires FirstMerit

Akron-based FirstMerit Corp. is being acquired by Huntington Bancshares Inc., the banks announced late Monday night. The deal, valued at $3.4 billion, is a stock-and-cash transaction and will create the No. 1 bank by deposits in Ohio with a combined estimated $100 billion in assets and a footprint in eight Midwestern states. The deal must receive regulatory approval and is anticipated to close in the third quarter of the year, said Steve Steinour, chief executive of Columbus-based Huntington. Read more here.

From the Huntington website: “Huntington and FirstMerit share a strong commitment of creating innovative partnerships with civic, government, non-profit and neighborhood groups to ensure our local communities thrive. By listening closely to our local partners, and understanding and appreciating the importance of tailoring investments to meet the unique local needs of a community, we invest in industry leading commitments through philanthropic grants, community development dollars, programs for small businesses and a passionate team of caring Huntington and FirstMerit volunteers. As part of our ongoing commitment to the shared communities we serve, we will be funding the Huntington Foundation with $5 million to serve our shared markets and creating a new Huntington Foundation, located in Akron, that will invest $20 million over the next ten years.”

Is the gender equality gap once again widening in the labor market?

Can it be possible that women lost 30 years of progress toward equal economic and political participation with men in just 12 months?

Unfortunately, according to the World Economic Forum, that is precisely what happened in 2015.

In 2014, the WEF predicted that it would be 80 years before gender parity could be achieved, according to the economic, educational, health-based and political indicators at the time. Just a year later, in 2015, that forecast changed to 117 years.

So how can we achieve gender parity when “business as usual” is failing to close the gap both within individual organizations and across nations? At EY, we decided to drive change at the local level by bringing together committed leaders from corporates, entrepreneurship and government.

In 2015, EY established the Women³. The Power of Three, a forum for female and male leaders from corporate, entrepreneurial and government organizations across major markets in EMEIA. After examining a number of different challenges to women in professional roles, the forum focused the last 12 months on how we could better leverage the skills of women throughout the three stages of their career (entrants, express and experienced) to close the global skills gap and support economic growth.

Through 10 regional roundtables with over 150 leaders, plus surveys of more than 1,000 organizations, Women³. The Power of Three developed a set of recommended actions calling on governments, corporates and entrepreneurs to work collectively to address five recommended actions for better harnessing female talent.

Out of these, the group prioritized five specific actions that we believe will hasten change.

Following are highlights from those findings. For more details, download the PDF.

A seven-step guide to downtown revitalization

Want to create vibrant, walkable neighborhoods but don’t know where to begin? (Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization has you covered.

This new report from Smart Growth America uses a seven-step process for downtown redevelopment:

  1. Understand your community
  2. Create an attractive, walkable place
  3. Diversify economic uses
  4. Plan for equity
  5. Improve government regulations and processes
  6. Finance projects
  7. Establish on-going place management

Downtown revitalization and smart growth are achievable in any community, the authors contend. The guidebook contains tips for revitalizing existing business districts and guidance on creating new ones by repurposing industrial parks, suburban shopping centers, and other underused assets.

This guide will be especially useful for small communities looking to attract and retain young people. As stated in the conclusion, “Downtown revitalization is much more than making physical improvements; it’s about bringing people together.”

The Nature and Role of Temporary Help Work in the U.S. Economy

New Research by the Upjohn Institute on the Nature and Role of Temporary Workers

Although only about 2 percent of wage and salary workers are employed in the temporary help industry, temporary agencies account for a much larger share of the U.S. workforce in blue collar occupations and play an outsized role in workforce adjustment during recessions and recoveries. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8.4 percent of workers in production occupations and 16.1 percent of workers in material-moving occupations (such as warehouse workers and industrial truck drivers) are hired through staffing companies. Reflecting, in part, the concentration of its employment in cyclically sensitive occupations, the temporary help industry contracted by 30 percent and accounted for 11 percent of net employment losses economy-wide during the Great Recession. Download and read the article here.

For US manufacturers, virtual reality is for real

By Robert McCutcheon, Partner, US Industrial Products Leader; and Gardner Carrick, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Manufacturing Institute

We’ve been hearing a lot about virtual reality of late. As virtual reality continues to take center stage, established tech and non-tech players and start-ups continue to invest in the space at great speed. This activity, unsurprisingly, is yielding a new generation of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices and software.

The distinction between the two, in a nutshell, is this: VR, typically requiring headsets, creates a fully immersive virtual experience, while AR is a quasi-virtual experience in which a layer of data, images, and communications augments the actual world, most conveniently produced with smartglasses. If the technology catches on, as many believe it will, millions of us will be crossing into new realities soon. Combined VR and AR sales are forecast to hit $150 billion by 2020, according to one estimate – with AR alone comprising about $120 billion.[1]

While the jury is still out on the timing of the technology’s mainstreaming, we’re seeing traction in surprising quarters far from the couches of video gamers – on America’s factory floors.

How are they using it? Pretty much any way they can. And that’s what’s interesting. According to an upcoming PwC survey of US manufacturers, the most popular application of VR and AR was product design and developments (38%), followed by safety and manufacturing skills training (28%), maintenance, repair or equipment operations (19%) and remote collaboration (19%). [Note that respondents could choose multiple answers.]

The next (hands-free) manufacturing tool. What we’re seeing is VR/AR as an advanced manufacturing technology tool – just like robotics, 3D printing, and the Internet of Things. And they’re applying it in innovative ways. Consider a few:

  • Materials handing: Warehouse workers using smartglasses which read barcodes on containers of supplies inventory boxes and provide content details and destination/origin information.
  • Remote maintenance: Field technicians relaying a live image of a part that needs to be fixed to a remote colleague who supplies relevant data, instructions, or images that could serve as a “live virtual repair manual.”
  • Augmented assembly: Assembly workers using smartglasses to help track complicated assembly processes to ensure all parts are assembled in the right place and sequence, removing downtime of consulting a clipboard, manual, or tablet.
  • Improved inspection: Parts inspectors taking a photo of a part that needs to be modified – or also adding a spoken record of the issue – and relaying those data to the appropriate co-worker in seconds.

About one in three manufacturers could adopt VR/AR technology by 2018. In an upcoming PwC survey, we uncovered that an impressive adoption of VR and AR technology is already afoot, with about one-third of manufacturers already using or planning in the next three years to adopt VR and AR technologies. Of course, adoption could run the gamut – from experiments or trialing the technology, to more ubiquitous or more widespread use among workers for whom it makes sense.

Saving time…minute by minute. AR not only gets things done faster and better – but easier, mainly because the technology frees the hands and accesses data with the tilt of the head, a spoken command or a simple touch – instead of stopping work and consulting a tablet, for example. Saving a minute or two here or there may seem like tiny productivity advancements, but it certainly adds up when an organization has thousands of workers carrying out, say, hundreds of routines daily.

Indeed, manufacturers are embracing AR/VR as new paths to boost both productivity and product quality – and expect to hear a lot more about its adoption on our factory floors as we wade into 2016.

[1] “Report: Virtual Reality rules now, but augmented reality will soon take over,” Nov. 4, 2015.

Deloitte releases new Millennial survey

Deloitte has recently released their fifth annual Millennial Survey, detailing the incoming workforce’s trends and traits. The research findings are based on a study conducted by Deloitte Global of nearly 7,700 Millennials representing 29 countries around the globe. All respondents were born after 1982, have obtained a college or university degree, are employed full-time, and work in large (100+ employees), private-sector organizations.

Amongst the findings, forty-four percent of Millennials say, according to the survey, that if given the choice, they expect to leave their current employers in the next two years. The statistic grows to 66 percent when the time frame is extended to 2020.

“Millennials place great importance on their organization’s purpose beyond financial success, remaining true to their values and opportunities for professional development,” stated Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO. “Leaders need to demonstrate they appreciate these priorities, or their organizations will continue to be at risk of losing a large percentage of their workforce. Fortunately, Millennials have provided business with a roadmap of how employers can meet their needs for career satisfaction and professional development.”

The Survey says that seven in ten Millennials believe their personal values are shared by the organizations for which they work. This is the potential “silver lining” for organizations aiming to retain these young professionals.

“A generation ago, many professionals sought long-term relationships with employers, and most would never dream of saying ‘no’ to supervisors who asked them to take on projects,” continued Renjen. “But, millennials are more independent and more likely to put their personal values ahead of organizational goals. They are re-defining professional success, they’re proactively managing their careers, and it appears that their values do not change as they progress professionally, which could have a dramatic impact on how business is done in the future.”

More findings from the survey include:

Forty percent of Millennials reporting high job satisfaction, and 40 percent who plan to remain in their jobs with their current employer beyond 2020, say their employers have a strong sense of purpose beyond financial success.
The desire to leave their current job during the next five years is greater among millennials in emerging markets (69 percent) than in developed economies (61 percent).
63 percent of millennials feel their leadership skills are not being fully developed, and 71 percent of those expecting to leave their employer in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed—a full 17 points higher than among those intending to stay beyond 2020.
Three-quarters of Millennials would prefer to work from home or other locations where they feel they could be most productive. However, only 43 percent currently are allowed to do this.
Three-quarters (77 percent) of Millennials feel in control of their career paths.
Deloitte Global leaders will discuss the Deloitte Millennial Survey and the impact of Millennials on business and employers at the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos, Switzerland, from 20 to 23 January 2016.

For the full Millennial Survey, head to Deloitte’s site here.