When reading history, we tend to mark off eras with thick black lines. We have the Dark Ages, and then we have the Renaissance, as if everyone in Europe woke up one morning and said “You know what we could use around here? Some culture!” This ignores the continuum: Dante was dead a hundred years before Michelangelo was born, and he, in turn, was an old man when Cervantes came into the world. History moves in fits and starts, and it isn’t until a long time later that really recognize how different everything is.
That process might be speeding up now. Permanent truisms from even 20 years ago seem as outdated as the chivalric code. Work in the 1990s more closely resembles the 1890s than it does today. That, of course, is thanks to the information revolution and the rise of mobile tech. Still, though, living in the midst of an era blurs the arrows of progress drawn alongside us—we tend to accept changes and immediately integrate them into our lives. So it is worth looking at just how different some jobs are today than they were in the very recent past, to really appreciate just how much has changed, and to anticipate how it will continue to do so.
Medicine: The Doctor Will See Everyone Now
Medicine might be the field that has changed the most. Obviously, there have been enormous advancements in technology for the actual practice of medicine: laparoscopic surgery has, except in extreme circumstances, replaced the traumatic pain of open surgery, and the ability to create new organs and skin will have huge impacts. But in terms of patient-doctor relations, too, it is remarkably different. Already, patients can consult with doctors without even meeting them, thanks to biometric technology and mobile health apps that can take nearly every measure of the human body and send it to a professional. Ingestible nanotechnology will soon be able to take readings and make bodily repairs internally.
The human body is a fickle and highly individual thing, and there will always need to be experts to diagnose and control, but more people can have access to professionals around the world, because face-to-face meetings won’t always be necessary. A doctor in San Francisco can diagnose someone in Cupertino or Kenya from her office. This also means that these awesome professionals can increase the number of people they can help as the process becomes quicker and more effective. This isn’t replacing doctors; it is letting them expand their expertise.
Sales: Getting the Word Out To Everyone
Pop culture has really influenced our idea of sales. When we hear the word, we think either of a 1950s door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, in his suit and fedora, asking the little missus if she has a few minutes (and what a terrible job that must have been), or else going from office to office with a new kind of pen that’ll really show the Russkies whatfor! Sales, though, have always been about one thing: connection. No matter what era, that hasn’t changed, and mobile apps make that easier and more efficient than ever.
Apps have completely changed the business-to-business sales industry by allowing for a streamlining of content for follow-ups. Basically, a salesperson makes the first contact, then they can use an app to gather all the relevant information for that specific potential client, and keep track of what they need throughout all other follow-ups. Instead of pounding the pavement and making hundreds of phone calls or sending dozens of emails, you can interact with a client inside an app to which you both have access. This way, they get the personal touch without the salesperson having to overwhelm them. It’s about combining information with individual care, and that’s what mobile tech has brought to sales.
Writing and Other Freelancing: Marketing is Everything
Here’s a good way for me to date myself: I used to fax or even mail actual articles to editors. Now, granted, I was dealing with publications that didn’t quickly adapt to changes, but that also shows how eras begin in fits and starts. That is what freelancers had to do: try to establish a connection over long distances and hope that you kept up enough communication to keep working. It was tough, and even the dawn of email made it only slightly easier.
The internet has been a strange mixed blessing for writers. Traditional publications are struggling to adapt, and are firing writers, but there are now millions more places to ply your trade. That’s where mobile tech comes in. It is easier now than ever to create your own marketplace, where you can compete for jobs and potential jobs can compete for you. You can be in constant touch with every editor you need to be in touch with. This goes for freelancers in any business, whether you are an Uber driver, a bike messenger, a stock analyst, a consultant, or anyone else. The marketplace is now adapting to become a freelance one, and all you have to do is plug in and show your talents. It’s more competitive than ever, but also easier than it was even 15 years ago.
Medicine, sales, and freelancing are just three broad fields, but they illustrate just how much things have changed due to mobile technology. One day, some future historian will look back and draw a black line between the old way of doing things and the new. Those of us alive now know that it wasn’t quite like that, but we also know that mobile tech has changed the world faster than anyone could have ever imagined.