It was only a few short years ago when consumers viewed technology as a way to supplement their everyday lives, including their careers. Fast forward to the present day, and many of these same individuals can’t even imagine a life without their smartphone, high-speed internet and Wi-Fi connectivity. While it was once considered a bonus that was reserved for those who could afford and understand it, our current lifestyles revolve around technology more than ever before.
But the widespread integration of technology isn’t limited to our personal lives. Many professionals are beginning to realize the benefit of today’s smart devices, software applications and online communications.
Modern social media has transformed the way we go about our lives and how we conduct business on a day-to-day basis. Gone are the days of fax machines and extended conference calls. Today’s professional atmosphere is all about instant, direct contact and fast results — and the impact on our society has been profound.
At the time of this writing, nearly 80 percent of adults in the U.S. are using Facebook to keep in touch with their friends, family members and co-workers, while the number of business profiles on the site recently exceeded 50 million.
Facebook isn’t alone in its success. LinkedIn, a popular site for job-hunting and connecting with industry peers, has gained a stellar reputation for professionals and entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Twitter, YouTube and even Instagram are also being used in similar fashions.
Many workers don’t even have to make an appearance at their workplace. Given the reliability and high speeds of modern networking equipment, as well as an increasing reliance on computer-driven operations and digital assets, numerous roles have been created that can be completed from a remote location. In some cases, traditional, on-site jobs are even being transitioned to remote or home-based employees.
According to recent reports, approximately 35 million U.S. workers are currently fulfilling their professional responsibilities from the comfort of their own home. With mobile and remote technology continuing to evolve and improve, and with a greater need for company wide digitization, the number of work-from-home opportunities will likely increase.
Wearable and Mobile Devices
As electrical components and related hardware become smaller and smaller, the popularity of wearable technology is on the rise. Not only are these devices incredibly useful, but their unobtrusive size and sleek design also makes them a great accessory for professional attire.
The technology behind these gadgets is impressive. Today’s circuit boards are miniscule in comparison to their predecessors. Flexible printed circuit boards, or PCBs, only take up one tenth the space of comparable wired assemblies.
Wristwatches and bracelets make up the brunt of today’s wearable IT products. The Apple Watch provided many consumers with their first taste of such technology, but new and upcoming products include eyeglasses, headsets, shoes and more.
The world of academia is also transitioning to the internet and embracing a wide variety of online educational platforms. Blackboard, which has been around since 1997, is one of the most popular virtual learning environments to date. It receives regular updates, modifications and upgrades to increase stability, enhance security and provide greater accessibility on behalf of students, teachers and administrators alike.
Rapidly evolving IT has even led to accredited colleges and institutions that are strictly meant for online learning. The certifications, diplomas and degrees obtained from these schools have all the weight of their traditional counterparts, and some credits can even be transferred between your online courses and brick-and-mortar universities.
Professionals now have greater control over their education and, as a result, their future. Whereas your past choices might have been limited due to geographical convenience, scheduling or tuition costs, these factors are more easily covered when attending college online during your free time.
It also makes it easier to attend classes and maintain a full-time job, which can lead to even greater career success down the road.
Industrial Automation and Robotics
More prevalent in the industries of manufacturing, assembly and distribution, industrial automation and robotics are streamlining day-to-day operations and enhancing productivity all across the nation. Although warehouse and factory workers have been working with automated systems for quite some time, modern hardware has advanced well beyond the forecasts and expectations.
Industrial robots of today are able to load raw materials, sort finished goods, package items and even perform quality assurance. Some are capable of self-diagnosing potential problems or errors and machine-based learning algorithms make these machines even smarter and more efficient as time goes on.
Embracing Current and Future Technology
There’s no question IT has revolutionized the way we view our careers, how we go about achieving progression and even how we measure success. Motivated individuals will do whatever it takes to become familiar with the latest technology and learn how to apply it to enhance their lives, including their professional status.
But the most proactive of professionals are able to monitor the state of IT, spot upcoming trends and capitalize on new innovations as soon as they hit the mainstream.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on navigating the work world. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and entrepreneurship to professional development, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum