Beyond the PC: Paradigm Shifts and Implications for Job Seekers

I first developed this presentation in 2008 after losing my job as a Dell Messaging Manager for consumer desktop PCs and exploring new career options. Kathy Lansford remembered it and asked if I would do it again on 11/19/10 for her LaunchPad Job Club. What follows is an enhanced version of that original talk.

These slides include my rough speaker notes. Afterwards is a list of key points from my closing 4-min video and links to other videos I used. Here's my 1-page Handout and a SlideShare version that can be viewed full screen.

America 2021: Jobs & the EconomyI recently added this edited transcript of a “Jobs & Recovery Roundtable” with six experts who I respect, including ITIF President Robert Atkinson. The panel explored ways to get America making things and prospering again, including the need to both create jobs and strengthen infrastructure – not just physical infrastructure but also “New Economy infrastructure” such as intelligent transportation systems, smart grid, electric battery charging systems, broadband, health IT, and skills & education. Although most panelists were pessimistic of our chances, they had good ideas and made many good proposals. I found the entire conversation stimulating and added some of my own thoughts throughout.

By Wayne Caswell, Technical Marketing Strategist, Consumer Advocate & Futurist 

The FUTURE: it ain’t what it used to be. 

Technology is evolving so fast, and at an increasing pace, that Past Skills may not be enough for your Next Job, or the job you Want.

I’ll be addressing step 3

Step 3 of the logical Job Search – researching opportunities and assessing career options – usually comes AFTER assessing your skills, interests and values and BEFORE writing a marketing plan or resume or scheduling interviews.


Puzzle Analogy

This analogy fits from both a job seeker perspective and an employer perspective. The objective is to find the right piece to fill a spot in the puzzle, but in today's job market there are a great many competing puzzle pieces, i.e. job seekers, each with attributes that make them unique.

Think of your approach to the task of puzzle building.

  • Start with the edges and corners
  • Turn all of pieces face-up so you can see colors and patterns, spread them around so they aren't covering each other, and start grouping them.
  • It gets more difficult once the edges are done since so many pieces look similar.

The analogy is like having hundreds of applicants for one job opening.

The final moments puzzle building go quickly, because each opening is well defined, and with fewer pieces there's less clutter on the surface. Even when a puzzle piece isn't oriented to make its fit obvious, it soon becomes obvious at that point.

But that's not today's job market. We're like individual puzzle pieces among millions, and it's not just one puzzle but tens of thousands of them in different industries - with all of the pieces jumbled together.

No wonder the job search is so difficult.

Georgetown University’s Market Research

Jobs & Education Requirements through 2018

>100 pages, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Ford Foundation

Attempts to answer questions such as

  • When will the jobs come back?
  • What will be the in-demand jobs?
  • Which occupations?
  • Where?
  • What education or certification is needed?


  • What will it cost to train tomorrow's workforce?

  • Is that cost justified?

  • Is the system ready to scale and serve the masses needing training?”

Required Reading for parents

Kids should see this chart.

  • Vertical axis = average lifetime earnings

  • Bars (left to right) = PhD, Professional Degree, Masters, Bachelors ($84K/yr), Associates, Some College, High School Diploma ($44K/yr), HS Dropout ($30K/yr)

  • Dropping out of HS = $600K mistake!

  • Bachelor’s degree = worth $1.6M

Getting a degree is not just about getting employed; it's also about advancing once you are employed. That's because employers tend to provide more training to those with a degree, i.e. with proven aptitude and interest.
  • Blue = formal training by education level
  • Red = informal training
  • Middle Class is shrinking AND nearly 2/3 of ALL jobs need college by 2018

  • 43% w/ License or Certificates vs. Associates; 27% vs. Bachelors

  • 31% w/ Associates vs. Bachelors (focus on useful SKILLS vs. general knowledge)

  • Net: Specialized Training can trump General Education. This report will help you identify the specialized training you need.

As a market researcher myself, I often notice what is NOT in reports, and I was disappointed to find no mention of:

  • Frequent Career Change and the need for constant retraining. That directly affects the question of affordability and scalability.

  • Working in Skilled Trades is an alternative to getting a college degree, but there was no mention of how to get these skills and their credentials, which is a glaring oversight since plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and skilled craftsmen can make good $.

  • Why is there no mention of the Entrepreneurs with creative ideas and who start innovative companies, eventually hiring others?

Is there a Bias in the Education System?

The power of a Mainframe >> PC

  • Computer Operator: IBM System/370 158: $3.5M, raised floor, A/C, water cooled, 1MIPS
    Expensive: Shared by thousands of users, Programmed in Assembler, COBOL, FORTRAN, PL/I (Describe “coffee cup” TV ad)

  • Consumer Marketing: IBM PC: Personal & Affordable. Allowed individuals & small businesses to compete with larger companies, globally, 24x7, in any currency. Son at 2-yrs old.

Stationary >> Mobile (notebooks, smart phones)

  • As apps moved from PC to Internet “Cloud,” all that was needed is a good browser and fast network.

  • Always Connected: email, messaging, calendar, social network, entertainment, world knowledge

  • Apps become “Location Aware”

  • New interface with No Keyboard (Toddlers). Built-in Camera (citizen journalism)

Man/Machine interface >> Machine/Machine

  • Embedded in Trillions of connected devices


My Toothbrush

Modern cars have dozens of embedded microprocessors for antilock brakes, rear-view mirrors, tire pressure sensors, fuel ignition systems, and much more.

Homes have even more - hundreds of processors embedded in everyday objects that we don't associate with computing, including thermostats, light switches, and door knobs, but since I couldn't bring those items with me, I brought my toothbrush.

  • Zilog Z8 microprocessor (8-bit, 10MIPS). Yes, my toothbrush can execute simple instructions ten times faster than a 1970's era mainframe.

Exponential Growth

  • What has changed in these Paradigm Shifts?
  • How are systems Used?
  • Programmed?
  • Supported? (Wi-Fi)

For Comparison:

  • IBM PC 5150 (full-blown in 1981): $5K, 64K, 2x 160KB diskettes vs. tape cassette, monochrome monitor vs. TV, 300 bps modem (plenty fast enough for text), 0.3MIPS
  • Dell Messaging Manager: XPS 720 H2C (full-blown in 2008): $5K, 4GB, 4x 1TB disks, over-clocked and water cooled quad-core processor, 59K MIPS, 1000 watt power supply) Compare with mainframe
  • $100 PC for emerging geographies
Memory: 64K PC vs. 4GB in XPS 720

CPU: Moore’s Law (Quantum physics vs. state change in transistors & magnetic disks). How will we use it? Text vs. Graphics & Games with Realistic Explosions

N/W: Bandwidth, Wireless vs. Fiber, Cloud Computing, National BB Strategy, Japan (already Gigabit/sec).
“Cloud” Computing: “The Network is the Computer” – Sun’s Scott McNealy ~20 years ago
Already: multiple fibers * 160 wavelengths * 10 Gbps each = 1600 Gbps = >2* faster than 2038 est.
Similar wireless multipliers: more spectrum at higher frequencies, better modulation, shorter Mesh
National Broadband Policy vs. Incumbents (Who should Fund, Build, Own, Manage & Protect?)
Chicken/Egg: 100 Mbps (3 * HDTV) vs. 1 Gbps (music ensemble)

Storage: Local or Remote? 30 Exabytes: 1.5M years of HD movies. What to store? (Your entire life in HDTV only needs 20 Petabytes.) How to find, make sense, protect?

Displays: Smaller (contact lenses), Larger (UHDTV), Thinner, Power efficient (e-paper needs no power), 3D
UHDTV: >20* Resolution (7680x4320 vs. 1920x768), 22.2 channel audio, 25 Gbps (vs. 20 Mbps)

Other Factors:

Extrapolate past trends (apply ACGR), but Futurists also examine various other scenarios, market drivers and inhibitors, and likely outcomes to predict strategies for Best outcome, including:

  • Politics, Business Models, Value Chains (can be a driver or inhibitor)

  • Scientific discovery, factoring in an expected time-to-market

  • Changing Demographics, Social Needs, Desires, Fads, Value Systems

  • Personal intuition from years of experience and the collected wisdom of “experts”

  • New Form Factors: Desktop >> Notebook >> Tablet & Smart Phone >> everyday devices

Smart Phones are disruptive to markets.

They're replacing: PCs, PDAs, Calculators, Handheld Video Games, Landline Phones, Cellular Phones, GPS Navigation, Watches, Cameras, Photo Albums, Newspapers, MP3 Music Players, TV Remotes, the Wallet, and more.

Network of Things

  • Man/Machine interface >> Machine/Machine (processors embedded in Trillions of everyday objects, along with electric power, self-discovery and self-forming communications)
  • Dozens of embedded microprocessors in modern cars; Even more in homes: Thermostats, Light switches, Door Knobs, Wearables & Clothing, Medicine bottles & Pills, eventually blood cells?

Endoscopic Pill:

Here's a practical use of such miniaturization. It's how doctors now examine the small intestine, since a colonoscopy can only examine the Large Intestine.

5th Generation w/ Accelerating Pace

Converging Information Science (bits), Bio Science (neurons & genomes), Nano Science (atoms) & Sociology (behaviors & consumer adoption curve).

(from Ray Kurzweil’s “Singularity”)

Here electronics tap into the nervous system of a cockroach.

Someone using a PC can send wireless signals to cause the cockroach to move, stop, turn left, turn right, or climb. But what's a practical application for such research?

Robi is an explosives expert. He goes into dangerous places in search of explosives before we send in humans.

Like the cockroach, Robi 's back back computer, which also has a tiny video camera, taps into his brain. That way, a person using a wireless PC can see everything Robi sees and stimulate pleasure sensors to cause Robi to turn or move.

Below are key points from the video. Here are the Job Implications:
  • It was Not Necessarily a Selfish Disregard for the Wellbeing of Others that led to Outsourcing, Off Shoring, and a Widening Divide between Digital Haves and Have-nots.
  • It is Natural for managers to Advance their Careers by adopting Technologies & Productivity Tools that give their company a Competitive Advantage, Increase Profits, Flatten the Organization Hierarchy, and Broaden their individual Span-of-Control, meaning they can manage more employees with less managers.
  • Technologies such as Smart Phones often leave those who remain Working Harder and Longer, across Time Zones, and always Connected and On-Call, leading them to cope with More Stress.
  • Gone are the days of working for years in a career with One Company. The Frequency of Layoffs and Job Changes may cause you to consider Freelancing, Consulting, Starting a business, or buying a Franchise.
  • Find a niche, become “the expert,” and avoid markets where Gorillas have Economies-of-Scale in Purchasing, Marketing and lobbying.
  • Change your Personal Brand positioning. Stress Function vs. Technology
    E.g. Web Design – Rather than HTML, Flash & DreamWeaver, stress abilities to bring visitors to the site, keep them there and engaged in social media, and convert them to customers.
    Why? Because anyone can create simple web pages today with no software and no training (e.g. MySpace, LinkedIn, Blogs, and Wikis. Even Microsoft Word can create & edit HTML pages.)


Did You Know . . .

Name this country . . .

Did you know . . .

Did you know . . .

Did you know . . .

What does it all mean?


Videos used in Wayne's talk:

Economic Insights that were NOT covered in Wayne's talk:

Without good paying jobs and discretionary income, who’s to buy the goods and services that the wealthy profit from? They’ll eventually need to address the disparity issue in order to keep growing their own incomes. Consider these stats…

Despite the economic crisis, the list of billionaires has grown by more than 200 and their aggregate capital has expanded by 50%.

In 1950 the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s was about 30 to 1. Since 2000 that average has ranged from 300 to 500 to one.

Since 1980, the richest Americans have seen their incomes quadruple, while for the “lowest” 90% of us, incomes fell. The average wage today is lower than it was in the 1970s, while productivity has risen almost 50%.

According to Federal Reserve figures, real weekly wages in the U.S. rose until 1973, and have been declining since. From 1977 – 1989, the wealthiest 660,000 families gained 75% of “average pretax income” increases, while most middle income families saw only a 4% increase — and those in the bottom 40% of income had real declines. In 1990, the median income was $29,934; in 1973, it was $30,943 (constant dollars). Women in the workforce and an increased reliance on credit helped forestall lifestyle crashes, but that also got us into our current economic bind.

The average annual earnings of the top group increased from $315,000 to $560,000 in twelve years. An estimated 28% of the total net wealth is now held by the richest 2% of families in the U.S. The top 10% holds 57% of the net wealth. If homes and other real estate are excluded, the concentration of ownership of financial wealth is even more glaring. In 1983, 54% of the total net financial assets were held by 2% of all families, those whose annual income is over $125,000. Eighty-six percent of these assets were held by the top 10% of all families.

The award-winning documentary, The Corporation offers more insight.