Tech & Work

Five predictions for business and careers in 2012, and beyond

Small businesses will drive job creation, and face time will become a precious commodity. See what other predictions the author of Society 3.0 has to offer.

Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, author of the upcoming book Society 3.0 and Managing Director of the Apollo Research Institute, was nice enough to offer her predictions for business and careers in the years to come. Here they are:

1. Continuous employment: Multiple jobs and employers.

Workers can expect to have 10 different jobs and employers over their lifetime. They will need to plan for continuous employment over longer life spans and make education an ongoing commitment. The proliferation of virtual organizations will accelerate this multiple-job trend as more people join workgroups from remote locations or choose to work as contractors. Telecommuting is up 400%, and by 2015 there will be an estimated 14 million freelancers. Also, due to ongoing economic uncertainty, large businesses are postponing full-time employment, choosing instead to retain workers as contractors until the market recovers.

2. Tiny but mighty: Small businesses and self-employment will drive job creation.

America's small and medium-sized businesses and startups created the most jobs during recessions. Baby boomers and other workers who were laid off during the recession will increasingly choose self-employment. Hispanic Americans have made particularly strong gains, with the number of self-employed Hispanics doubling since the year 2000. Watch healthcare (where 1 in 10 jobs are located today) and information technology for major surges in employment in the coming years. The growing need for home healthcare and more community-based medical centers will boost hiring of healthcare workers. IT will evolve to serve small businesses, with tech-support squads (which will increasingly include women) attuned to the needs of solo workers and small and medium-sized businesses, like medical and professional offices.

3. Women rising: Working women will impact the marketplace.

As employees and business founders, women will continue to outperform the market. Women-owned businesses are growing in number at twice the rate of all U.S. firms. They contribute nearly $3 trillion to the economy and create or maintain 23 million jobs. Studies show that companies led by women tend to be more financially successful than comparable companies run by men, and that women-friendly corporations have higher profits as well. Women will also continue to improve their overall education levels; they currently earn more higher degrees than men.

4. Education matters: Lifelong learning will be vital to career success.

Significant disparities exist between the skills workers offer and those that employers require, raising the risk that U.S. companies will lose business to foreign competitors with better-educated workforces. To remain employable, workers need to develop higher-order thinking skills, embrace emerging technology, and become lifelong learners.

5. Showing up for work: Face time will become a precious commodity.

The increase in teleworking, virtual organizations, and mobile device use allows people to set up a work environment anywhere. People no longer have to migrate to a physical location, except for important meetings. Face-to-face gatherings will become rare. For those still based in offices, expect work-process compressions such as "purposeful meetings" and deliberately reduced meeting times. The free-form 60-minute meeting is passé, and many managers will opt for 15-20 minute meetings with tightly focused agendas.

Learn more about the book Society 3.0 at


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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