The internet is far more than just a place to share memes and stay in touch with people via social media. It’s also a place of business. Very few people could have imagined the influence that the internet would have on all of our lives when it was a new idea back in the 1990s, but it’s changed the way we live beyond all recognition. We might not necessarily enjoy or appreciate all of those changes – especially if we have friends who are never off their internet-enabled smartphones when they’re in our company – but for the main part, the internet has made the world of business better.
Aside from making business easier to do and condensing processes that used to take days down to a few minutes, the internet has enabled entire industries to become totally or almost totally digital. The benefits of doing so are obvious. A digital-only business saves on overheads because it doesn’t need to buy or lease office space, probably requires fewer staff, and can undercut the prices of an equivalent business that operates on the high street. The pace of change is so rapid that you might not have noticed a few of these industries moving to the internet, but if you have the relevant skills and you’re looking for a career in the digital economy, these are the industries you should be knocking on the door of.
There are many different industries we could list here, but we’re going to focus on just five for the purposes of this article.
Dealing with a financial advisory company that was based on the internet would have seemed like madness twenty years ago, but now it’s the way of the world. For most young people, their financial adviser doesn’t work for the same company that provided financial advice to their parents, and might not even live in the same state or country as them. They’re just someone they communicate with via email, and may speak to on the phone occasionally. People can apply for mortgages, insurance products, loans and bank accounts through the internet. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too; cryptocurrency counts as part of the digitization of financial services, and we’re still only at the start of the Bitcoin revolution. Right now, most of the financial service products you rely on are accessed digitally. In the future, even your money might be digital. Prepare to say goodbye to coins and notes.
For most people, education ends when you finish school, college, or university. For a few people, education is something you come back to in later life – and those ‘few’ people grow in number every year. If you wanted to improve on your school-age grades or gain a new qualification in the past, you would have had to find a night school in your local area, and you would need to work around the schedule that the night school offered. That isn’t the case. Most universities now offer long-distance learning courses over the internet, with material available whenever you need it and pre-recorded lectures to watch at your leisure. There’s been a huge rise in the number of people obtaining university-level qualifications through the internet in the past decade. There’s no reason to imagine that this trend won’t continue into the future.
This might sound like a cliche, but the printed press is dying. There’s rarely a week that goes by without a magazine shutting its doors for the last time, and the circulation figures of almost all the world’s major newspapers have dropped like a stone in the past twenty years. A newspaper is inflexible. It’s printed overnight or in the morning, and once it’s printed, it can’t be changed. By the afternoon of its release, it’s out of date. That isn’t the way news works, and thanks to the internet, it’s no longer the way news is broadcast or transmitted. The internet makes breaking news available every hour of every day, and most newspaper companies are now making more money through their websites than they are through the sale of their newspapers. Books are still hanging on in there in the face of competition from Kindles, tablets, and e-readers, but every other form of printed media is in a steep decline that will almost certainly one day finish it off.
You no longer have to find a casino in your area if you want to place a bet. You might not even have to get out of bed if you don’t really want to. Availability might vary depending on where you live and what local laws on gambling are like, but online slots became mainstream around fifteen years ago, and they’re not going to go back in their box now. Across much of Europe, online casinos and online slots websites have become the default way of playing slots and placing wagers. The digitization process might even be advancing faster with gambling than it is with any other industry – while everyone else is focusing on becoming digital, online slots websites have already started specializing in the mobile format. The gambling industry might not be where most people go in search of innovation, but consider this question; what other industry in history has been better at parting people from their money? You have to be smart to work in gambling, and the world’s leading companies are smart enough to be digital pioneers.
Tourism might not seem like it’s become digital given the fact that you still have to board a plane to visit a foreign country, but think about the process that leads to you boarding that plane. Twenty years ago, you’d have visited a travel agent in person, had a long conversation about options, and then probably paid for your holiday in cash. That doesn’t happen anymore. If you were going to go on vacation today, you’d go online to compare prices between airlines, find yourself the cheapest deal, book it all online, and then check-in for your flight using an app on your phone. This makes flights cheaper because overheads are dramatically reduced. Some of the most technically advanced travel agency websites even offer you the ability to take a virtual tour of a hotel room through AR and VR!
Digitization is all around us, and there’s no such thing as an industry that can’t be digitized in some way. That means that if you have computing or technical skills, the world is your oyster. You should have your choice of any profession, so go out and take what you want!