The Future of Work Today: What B2B functions are declining?

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Predictive analytics, virtual reality, software defined networking (SDN’s), megatrends and robot content marketing – the #FutureofWork’s sole purpose is to try and stay a step ahead of the pack. Large scale trends and analysis are a constant source of inspiration and anxiety in the #B2B world, but much of that long term trend analysis looks past the specific job fields that will impacted. In real terms what does it mean to say the #futureofwork will be “more mobile, more social, more experiential” over the next decade. What jobs fields will contract, be made obsolete or redundant in that process?

Trend analysis that speaks directly to CEO’s can offer foresight and vision, but these trends and the #B2B world are part of a relationship that includes many more players. How can those same CEO’s analyze their staff if trends are not related to job fields, how can workers innovate, challenge and push industry forward without it? Reports like  “The Future of B2B” from Sapient Nitro is a great resource, but nowhere in it will you see any mention of “jobs.”

This is troubling considering industry analysts have been publicly musing about large scale contraction. Andy Hoar of Forrester Research believes we will see the B2B job market contracting from its estimated current level of 4.5 millions sales person jobs to 3.5 million by 2020. With large and rapid decline in “order takers, navigators and explainers,” the current middle men of B2B, Hoar sees tech ravaging this job sector mercilessly. Not everyone shares that grave forecast, but some level of contraction in the B2B salespeople job field is expected with much of the discussion moving to what new categories on B2B sales people will be valuable and relevant moving forward.

Ironically, App Development, a B2B job field that is currently experiencing growth as a result of this shift in B2B sales, may also be on the precipice of a decline. While the code they are writing is outpacing and providing efficiencies to remove middlemen in the B2B sales process, some believe the field is close to a burst as it functions to make much of its own industry redundant. Researches from Boston University as well as Columbia University, have been sounding the bell on this process for well over a year now, pointing to small scale coding and app development that has already eaten away at its own field. They warn that effect could snowball right as that job market peaks.

The effect those researchers warn of has a domino effect on many other B2B areas. If coding can replace sports writers, it can eat away at B2B media as well. There is almost no B2B job field that won’t feel some element of disruption as app development, code and automation increase efficiency and remove redundancy from the B2B process. B2B Social media job fields are also experiencing the same kind of growth alongside app development/coding, but this same logic could be applied to that growth field. How much quality content exists that can actually separate itself from robot content?

All of these longer term trends put the discussion of “jobs” back into the discussion of B2B and #FutureOfWork, but without the context of long term job field growth trends that discussion just sounds like a bunch of scaremongering.

Yes, B2B salespeople will face decline, but certain types of that job field will experience growth as a result of that decline – many foresee multi connected and “challenger” consultants being that much more sought out and revered. Yes, app development, coding and automation will touch every field, including its own, but in a world with more data there is a greater need for people to warehouse, discern and analyze that data in ways that are actually useful.

Stay tuned for next week’s continuation on the #FutureofWork theme as we look at some B2B job fields that are expected to grow over the next decade.

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Dylan Powell

Dylan Powell

Dylan Powell is a writer from St. Catharines, On (Canada) with a background in new media and social media development. He has been published in various advocacy outlets and journals, in the Hamilton Spectator and Two Row Times, and been covered by CBC Radio, CTV, and the Toronto Star on various advocacy issues. He spends his free time lending his skills to his wife's roller derby league as PR Chair.