Four industries under threat from technology in 2017

By Alexander Muir

We’ve all heard the rumours that we’re heading for a dystopian nightmare where technology surpasses humans and we’re all wiped out – this being a little extreme. This being said, there are a number of traditional industries and careers diminishing due to a developments in technology and the rise of “sharing economy” start-ups: high street travel agents, manufacturing services, car insurance companies and financial advisors.

High Street Travel Agents

High-street travel agents are at risk due to our increasing reliance on ‘online deals’ and online bookings. Fritz Joussen, CEO of the world’s largest tour operator Tui (controlling familiar high-street travel agencies Thomson and First Choice) has noticed a transition following global technological advances, arguing that the “end game” for the company is now to branch out into owning the hotels and operating cruise ships – he argues that the industry he has become familiar with is “transforming.”

The industry has seen a steep decline in the traditional physical branches as online portals such as Expedia and Skyscanner offer a clearer and more efficient method of arranging holidays.

In 2011, Thomas Cook needed a £200m loan to tackle a financial crisis that threatened its very existence, and since the crash many high street branches of the chain have been closed and much of the business is done online.

This decline in physical stores is apparent in all industries throughout the UK, but technology threatens the travel industry in all aspects from flights to hotels, with Tourism Alliance reporting that “70% of tourism and hospitality businesses employ fewer than 10 people” as technology takes over, bad news for us students looking for jobs in the tourism industry.

Manufacturing and Distribution

Another industry under threat from technology are those in the manufacturing and distributing industries. The exponential burst of 3D printing has allowed many companies to print for themselves materials that they would normally have outsourced to smaller manufacturing companies – this presents a threat to a range of careers from engineers to those hoping to develop start-ups in this area. Global brand Bosch has already begun printing their own materials with the manufacturing process development manager, Dr Stefan Hoeval stating that “3D printing will make a major difference,” assuming that 3D printing could become up to 60% cheaper than the traditional methods.

Of course machines and printers will always need engineers to maintain them, however the technology does have the potential to haemorrhage the job market for engineers and designers in the field.

Driverless Cars

As technology grew it was only natural that developments would expand to cars – a world of driverless cars gliding effortlessly around major cities, flawlessly manipulating the roads and keeping everyone safe – is this a dream come true? Not for the insurance companies – to anyone dreaming of wealth in the insurance game these super-safe cars present a challenge. Multi-national firm Morgan Stanley have produced research suggesting that the industry generates around $17bn in profits.

With companies like AXA joining government-backed schemes on the best way to introduce driverless technology, the threat appears greater than ever. A rise of these driverless cars would result in less cars on the road, meaning less accidents and subsequently less business for the insurance companies – food for thought for any budding insurers or lawyers. In contrast, these tricked-out motors will most likely require extensive repair and development, good news for engineers and developers, not so much for those studying social sciences or humanities.

Financial Advisors

Traditional methods of financial management have been hit hard by the introduction of computer algorithm’s promising better results than could be achieved by human advisors.

The association for financial advisors, Liberatum suggests that more than 13,500 advisors left the industry due to increasingly tough standards for newly-qualified advisors, accelerating the rise of technology in the field.

The emergence of “robo-advisors” in 2012 has dramatically altered the industry. These robo-advisors will recommend the best investments for the investor based on a short online questionnaire, with U.K. banks such as Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group all adopting the technology, with others set to follow.

The growing trend towards passive funds has forecast a growth in the number of robo-advisors, spelling trouble for those hoping for a career in finance and investment management.

So clearly, no one is safe from the impending growth of technology, and an uprising is inevitable. Prepare yourselves everyone, the robots are getting stronger.