Hire a Data Detective to Solve Manufacturing’s Mysteries

Nov. 21, 2017
According to a new report from Cognizant, the future workforce will have very different job descriptions—and titles—thanks to robots, automation and artificial intelligence.

In the face of a skills shortage, the manufacturing industry has issued a call to action to educate and recruit more engineers, programmers, equipment operators and technicians. The Millennials among us may be turned off by such titles, but they may be interested in training to become a “data detective,” an “ethical sourcing officer” or a “master of edge computing.” These are just some of the new jobs that will emerge after the robots inch their way across the enterprise and assembly line, as outlined in a report released this month from Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work.

Robotics, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are seen in both a good and bad light. While these technologies are making our lives easier, they are also taking our jobs. Or are they? In fact, it is the very technology that we may be resisting—for fear of losing jobs—that will create new opportunities going forward.

Cognizant points out that there are some underlying principles to understand about the future of work. First, our jobs have always changed. How many lamplighters do you see on the city streets? When was the last time you picked up the phone and heard a switchboard operator? And, there are fewer bank tellers to talk to these days. But while some of these roles have become obsolete, others have evolved (that lamplighter is now an electrician). That means we should not resist change. After all, there are many dull, dirty or dangerous jobs that robots will liberate us from.

And, we must remember: machines need man. “Machines can do more, but there is always more to do,” the report states, noting that machines are tools and tools need to be used by people. To that end, human ingenuity is one of our greatest qualities, and in the age of intelligent machines, we will continue to explore to create new kinds of work.

In August, Aaron Hand wrote about a new workforce analysis from UI Labs and ManpowerGroup that identifies 165 future data-centric careers that will help shape the next-generation of manufacturing in the U.S. Collaborative robotics specialist, manufacturing cybersecurity strategist, enterprise digital ethicist, are some of the jobs that will make up the digital workforce.

The Cognizant report unveils another set of job categories that will exist in the next 10 years due to technological advances. Not all of the 21 new jobs that Cognizant outlines will impact manufacturers. The role of “personal memory curator,” for example, is geared toward the senior population to help them cope with longer life expectancy. The job requires generating specifications to create virtual reality experiences around a time, a place or events from the client’s past, keeping our aging memories alive and well.

But a data detective will be investigating the mysteries of Big Data, uncovering secrets within the content by examining sensors, devices, fog computing and neural networks. And data scientists need not apply, as a job like this just requires curiosity and attention to detail with the ability to follow a lead and go where the data is.

Another role, called “man-machine teaming manager,” will identify tasks, processes, systems and experiences that can be upgraded by newly available technologies, while imaging new approaches, skills, interactions and constructs. The job will define roles and responsibilities and set the rules for how machines and workers should coordinate to accomplish a task. Or, as the “master of edge computing,” a person will oversee the overhaul of infrastructure to ensure new technology seamlessly interacts with legacy systems.

Rising up the corporate ladder may mean a promotion to “ethical sourcing officer,” who checks the ethical integrity of every contract in the supply chain and creates real time experiences to test and review the ability to track and trace data. Then there’s the “genetic diversity officer,” who ensures equality management beyond ethnic, gender or sexual orientation to integrate a workforce that may include individuals who have been genetically enhanced with those who have not.

And this is just the beginning. Looking further out on the horizon we’ll see carbon farmers, avatar designers, cryptocurrency arbitrageurs, drone jockeys, and even robot spa owners and, yes, Snapchat addiction therapists. Looks like there will be plenty of jobs to fill in the future.