FORBES Council Feature: Skills Every Marketer Should Acquire In The Next 10 Years
We’re quickly stepping into the future. If we continue to follow the progress we’ve made over the past 20 years, we’re going to see big changes by 2032. Exactly what those changes will be can be hard to predict. However, there are a number of skills you can begin developing now to be ready for whatever the future holds.
One of the most important things you can develop is your cognitive flexibility—the ability to selectively switch between mental processes to generate appropriate behavioral responses. Cognitive flexibility requires us to switch between actions depending on changes around us. For example, if you encounter a detour on your way to work, cognitive flexibility allows you to draw on your knowledge to switch to a new route and make it to your destination on time.
Knowing when to switch, and being able to, depends on our ability to:
• Pay attention to our environment and changes.
• Access and interpret memory around contingencies and choices.
• Utilize our inhibitions to stop performing unneeded actions and remove inhibitions around the new actions we need to perform.
Cognitive flexibility gives us the ability to quickly evaluate risks, consider multiple options at once, and confidently make decisions on the spot. This kind of thinking allows us to navigate business changes and minimize loss and negative impacts that come from industry or regulatory changes.
Improve your cognitive flexibility by paying attention to your routines. Each day, choose a chore, hobby, or daily task. Ask why you do it a particular way and imagine what would happen if you made a change. Then, change how you do it.
Do you know how to examine the implications of your actions or decisions and make sound decisions based on that information? Understanding the values that guide your reasoning is key to ethical literacy. When I help a company create its vision and mission statements, I am using my ethical literacy to help create a road map that will guide the company’s future actions.
As we look toward the future, however, we have to look at ethics as more than codes of conduct and public relations. As technology advances, we will face more and more ethical questions about when and how to use technology. Over the next 10 years, building ethical literacy around technological advances will be vital.
Artificial intelligence, in particular, presents a unique challenge to our ideas of ethics. How do we treat AI as it comes closer to matching human consciousness? What are the practical, everyday implications of removing decisions and responsibilities from humans and putting them onto machines? Who is responsible if the AI makes an error?
For example, suppose your website uses a chatbot to answer visitor questions. If the chatbot says a product has a lower price because of outdated information, you’re already likely to honor that lower price. What if you’re a pharmaceutical company and that outdated information is about drug interactions that directly result in a customer’s injury?
Ethical literacy allows you to build the kinds of ethical road maps that can help you not only know what to do in that situation but avoid it altogether. As you begin to implement changes in technology or work processes, ask yourself what happens between each step in your process. What information is available? What can be misinterpreted? What causes and effects might you be overlooking?
Over the next 10 years, building ethical literacy around technological advances will be vital.
As our world continues to expand into digital frontiers, companies will continue to place a high demand on those with the knowledge and skills to navigate digital landscapes. For those seeking advanced degrees, I believe e-sciences, AI, and technology ethics will be key fields of study. However, there are other skills and technologies that you should learn such as:
• Coding languages.
• Blockchain technology.
• Data visualization.
• Computational thinking.
• Virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR).
Emotional And Social Intelligence
Some sectors of the economy will always require emotional and social intelligence—that is, our ability to judge and respond to emotions and social situations. Jobs in healthcare, customer-facing roles, and collaborative careers will continue to need these important skills no matter how technology changes.
As technology advances, however, it will become increasingly important for everyone to develop their emotional and social intelligence, no matter what their role or economic sector. While technology offers us new and innovative ways to connect, that digital connection can still make us feel isolated and alone. Building emotional and social intelligence around technology to help people make key interpersonal connections will be game-changing as digital technologies improve.
Critical Thinking, Creativity, And Innovation
While we usually put creativity and innovation together, we don’t always include critical thinking into the mix, and I believe that has always held us back. The ability to assess a situation and apply sharp critical thinking skills can lead to incredible innovations. Critical thinking allows us to examine situations from multiple perspectives and ask key questions to find and develop a solution.
When looking for innovative solutions for my clients, I don’t wait for inspiration to strike. I examine the current markets, customer trends, and available technology. What are competitors doing? How can I improve on what is already working? I find innovation through critical thinking.
Critical thinking is vital for more than just problem-solving. Developing critical thinking skills can help you develop and nurture your creativity. As you learn to examine situations, you can gain the kinds of insights that “naturally” creative people use every day.
As we continue to move into the digital future, these are only some of the skills that I predict we will need for successful careers. They are by no means the only skills you will need to develop. However, if you can gain and improve upon these skills, you will empower yourself with the ability to adapt and take on any skill you will need.