Future Tense: Third Installment of Series Focuses on Changes in the Workplace

Jim Barrett was talking about the future of work, market disrupters, and, more specifically, the skills that employees will need in the future. And to get his points across, he repeatedly referenced the F-35 stealth fighter jet recently introduced into service by the Air Force, Navy, and Marines.

“The pilot has a helmet that is custom-sculpted to their head,” Barrett, managing partner of the Holyoke-based accounting firm Meyers Brothers Kalicka, explained. “They put the visor down, and they see, through cameras, 360 degrees around the plane. They’re not really using their vision anymore; they’re looking straight ahead and seeing the screen in front of them.

“Years ago, when these planes touched down, people would run out to the tarmac and say, ‘how much fuel do you need? How much ammunition do you need? Is there anything wrong?’ And they’d do all the tests,” he went on. “This new jet actually has the ability to send back information to the base about how much fuel it’s used, how much ammunition it’s used; it does a self-diagnosis of what it needs such that, when the pilot touches down on the deck, there are people already lined up with the exact parts it needs and the exact amount of ammunition. They eliminated all the time and people it took to gather all that information.”

The moral to that story? Essentially, the same thing is happening in the workplace, said Barrett, adding that, in the future — and even now, for that matter — people will need a different set of skills to succeed in the workplace.

Using his sector, financial services, as an example, he said that, years ago, people would spend large chunks of time gathering and analyzing data. “Now, machines are going to do that for you,” he went on. “So you’ll need people who can make determinations about what data is relevant, because the data is already going to gathered and analyzed.”

Barrett will get into much greater detail about all this at the third installment of BusinessWest’s Future Tense series, created to help business owners understand the future and be better prepared for it, on Sept. 20.

Fast Facts:

What: Future Tense lecture series, the third installment
When: Sept. 20, starting at 8 a.m.
Where: Tech Foundry, 1391 Main St., Springfield, 9th floor
For More Information: Call (413) 781-8600
To Register: Visit businesswest.com/lecture-series

He will be joined by Mark Borsari, president of wire-brush manufacturing firm Sanderson MacLeod, who will discuss change and innovation through lean concepts and focus on resulting cultural considerations and the broad impact on competitiveness.

Barrett and Borsari will wrap up the series, which has drawn a wide range of business owners and managers to Tech Foundry’s facilities to hear about arguably the most vexing topic in business — the future.

In the first installment, Delcie Bean, founder of Paragus Strategic IT, talked about how technology — in such forms as artificial intelligence, driverless cars, and 3-D printing, will change not only the workplace, but society as a whole. In the second installment, wealth-management advisor Amy Jamrog presented a program titled “What Got You Here Might Not Get You There: Mistakes Business Owners Make Before and After Retirement.”

The third installment will have many focus points, said Barrett, but especially the market forces and market disrupters that will shape his sector, but also all industries.

And, as noted earlier, to succeed, people will need a different skill set.

“It’s not analyzing the data as much as determining what to do with it,” he explained. “It’s about making better decisions with the date you have, as opposed to gathering and analyzing it.”

The program will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast. There will be then be remarks from sponsors — Paragus and the Jamrog Group — followed by the presentation and a discussion. Tickets are $25 each, with the proceeds going to Tech Foundry.

For more information, call (413) 781-8600. To register, visit businesswest.com/lecture-series.