INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak - The Philippine Star

These days a familiar buzzword we hear a lot is “future-proof.” Businesses and individuals are being told to future-proof their services and skills if they want to remain competitive and survive in the long run. But what does this word really mean? And can it apply to more than just businesses and skills?

Absolutely. It can apply to pretty much anything. Future-proofing means ensuring that something does not become obsolete, or it can mean investing in taking steps so that you are agile enough to expand as needed for as-yet-unknown circumstances and opportunities. Essentially it means to be prepared for more than just the present.

That’s why businesses and professionals must invest in future-proofing their services and skills. For several years, the focus was on improving services and bolstering skills in the present. However, as technology has evolved and business demands have grown, more emphasis is on what’s to come.

The academe is working on upgrading the curriculum. At the same time, learning and development programs focus on teaching skills that will be relevant and useful for many years to come – not just for the current year. As technology evolves, customer demands will grow, and business processes will become more complex.

Workers and businesses need to be able to handle this switch and evolution. Many more simple tasks will begin to be handled by AI, freeing up human resources to focus on the more complex requirements. Professionals should be adequately prepared to handle their jobs and functions today, and have the skills to grow into more complex roles in the future. It’s all about resiliency, coupled with innovation and looking ahead.

The same can be said for the world’s global goals too. As we shifted from the Millennial Development Goals (MDG) to Sustainable Development Goals (SGD), we turned our focus on having the resources we need right now and making sure we save enough for the future and future generations.

Sustainability has become the guiding factor for how many people live and organizations operate. Several businesses have already begun to adopt this into their corporate citizenship programs. COVID-19 made this pivot and shift of focus even more important. While most professionals already knew the importance of business resiliency before the pandemic, COVID-19 highlighted just how important it was to be able to survive and adapt to any circumstances. Those who were unable or refused to accept the changes struggled, while those who did, found new ways to survive and eventually thrive.

So, we change, as we always do. And for people who find change difficult, the pandemic didn’t leave them much choice. Quite frankly, I’m not fond of change. Not many older people are. Many of us have grown accustomed to a particular way of doing things. But we’re all learning that change (along with death and taxes) is really one of the only constant things in life, and if we don’t adapt, we won’t survive.

We’ve honestly seen so many changes these past several years, even before the pandemic. Technology has evolved faster in the last five years than in the last decade, and technical and digital solutions are becoming the go-to for most businesses. Even those that held off on digitalization had no choice once the global health crisis hit.

Almost everything migrated online. While there will always still be benefits to the physical, digital is here to stay, and the sooner we acclimate, adjust, and think ahead, the better off we’ll be. After all, being informed is always the most critical thing in any instance. Being educated and informed is how we stay ahead of the curve and how we can keep misinformation at bay – a side effect, unfortunately, of our highly digital world.

After all, it became that much easier to spread “alternative facts” and misinformation with the proliferation of online social media. News is spreading now at the speed of light. With few hard-to-enforce consequences for spreading fake news, I don’t see the abundance of misinformation slowing down soon.

At this point, it’s up to us to be able to discern better. As the world evolves, so too must we all. This means learning new digital solutions, understanding how different information platforms work, and knowing how to choose what not to believe and where to get the most reliable information.

It’s heartening to see that more and more netizens are doing their best to separate fact from fiction instead of just blindly believing everything they see online. The passionate way that the youth, in particular, are being conscientious gives me hope for the future. These days, when knowledge continues to be power, it’s essential to use that power wisely and not feed and spread false information – which is always abundant.

So, as we continue to face a quickly evolving digital world, we need to future-proof more than just our skills, but also our mindsets. Be vigilant about where we give our engagement and learn how to discern for ourselves. Knowing how to navigate a rapidly evolving digital world is essential not just to us today, but also if we want to survive and thrive in the future too.


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