Updated February 20, 2023
If an administrative professional from the 1950s happened to be magically transported to today’s office, they’d be in for quite a shock!
Gone are the days when filing, phone skills, and semi-legible shorthand were key requirements for an admin job. Today’s job descriptions are more likely to include analytical reasoning, critical thinking, complex problem-solving skills, and UX design. And an admin who is unable or unwilling to keep up with the ever-changing technological demands of the profession will get left behind.
Don’t let the changing requirements scare you! Instead, make a concentrated effort to look ahead to the future and begin developing the necessary skills now – before you need them!
The “Traditional” Role of the Administrative Professional Has Shifted
In the past, admins have been responsible for things like customer service, accounting, and data entry. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), however, many of these tasks can be automated. According to the World Economic Forum, the workforce is automating even faster than expected, with 85 million jobs expected to be displaced by 2025.
That settles it, right? Our worst fears have been realized, and AI really is taking over our jobs.
Not so fast! While it’s true that some tasks traditionally handled by admins are being automated, it does not spell the end of the admin profession. In fact, it enhances it. With less time-consuming, mundane tasks on our plate, we’re suddenly free to pursue higher-value projects that require human intelligence.
But what does this look like in practice? What skills should you focus on honing and which should be left behind?
SMAC Skills Lead the Way
The SMAC acronym stands for Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud – and if you’re looking for a bandwagon to jump onto, this may be the most beneficial one for the near future.
With more and more businesses looking to transition into the digital age, SMAC skills are a necessity for any admin. Collectively, these skills allow a company to reach more customers and serve them more effectively while cutting costs and setting themselves apart from the competition.
Let’s look at each component individually.
- Social – While social media may have begun as a way to keep in touch with family and friends, it’s now a necessary marketing tool for any business. Companies use social media platforms to build their brand, engage with their audience, and provide customer service – and they need assistants who are capable of managing their pages.
- Mobile – While desktop PCs and laptops will probably always have their place in the business world, the way people access the internet has changed. Smartphones, tablets, wearable tech, and other connected devices are disrupting the way we do business, and companies are searching for people who can help them adapt.
- Analytics – The ability to make sense of big data, and translate it in ways that can help an organization become more profitable, is a skill that is already in high demand, and that demand will only increase in the future.
- Cloud – As businesses make the switch to cloud computing, collaboration between internal team members and external clients alike occurs daily. Becoming comfortable with using cloud-based tools and learning how to test and integrate them into your repertoire allows you to stay better connected to the tools you need when you need them.
Depending on the type of work you do, you may not need to use these SMAC skills immediately. However, understanding the steep learning curves involved, adding these skills sooner rather than later will allow you to stay ahead.
“Human” Skills are Increasing in Value
Artificial intelligence is here to stay. But there are still plenty of things that robots can’t do – and those skills are in high demand.
A computer can’t persuade someone to buy a product or service. It doesn’t have the ability to negotiate a contract or the creativity that’s needed to think outside the box. It only knows what it’s taught and only performs the job it’s asked to do.
A human, on the other hand, has the ability to innovate. They can look at an issue, examine it from all angles, and use complex problem-solving skills and advanced reasoning to arrive at a satisfactory solution. Humans can interpret tone, body language, and many other factors that impact effective communication and collaboration. Humans who are actively engaged in learning and development will always have the edge.
Despite the warnings about job-stealing robots and disappearing career paths, the admin profession is alive and well. And those who are willing to adapt to the emerging technologies and skillsets can expect to thrive for many years to come!
© 2023 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.