Largely thanks to the globalization and advancement of technology, the division of labor requirements has been spread across specialty skill sets, resulting in greater productivity. While you might argue that we’ve already been living in an era of specialization, the next five years will mark significant advancement and the transition into an era of hyper-specialization. Specialization was introduced to the workforce during the industrial revolution, hence the beginnings of mass production on a global scale. In what follows, we’ll be depicting the timeline of specialization economics, ultimately arriving at hyper-specialization, what it is, and why it’s beneficial for businesses, brands, and workers alike. Understanding what the forecast for the next five years is with regards to the workforce and its shift towards hyper-specialization will allow you as an employer to better adapt to the inevitable changes that follow, ultimately helping you hire the best talent available.
The Timeline of Specialization
Until now, specialization was thought of as a separation of singular jobs across departments. You have salespeople, engineers, marketers, creatives, and other broadly knowledgeable workers tasked to work on a variety of projects within their scope or industry. Specialization reinvented the way we approached productivity, dividing labor into projects and further into areas of expertise.
In the developing era of hyper-specialization, however, we’ll have task-centric workers, further dividing subspecialties into more complex, highly specific tasks. This can be thought of as extreme specialization.
Take a marketing professional, for example…In a traditionally specialized world, marketing professionals have broad knowledge and skill across marketing disciplines such as copywriting, design, strategy, communication and advertising. A marketing professional is specialized by department, not by skill.
In a hyper-specialized world, a worker will be further centralized by task and again by skill. Instead of hiring a marketing professional, then, you will seek to hire a copywriter, for example. Even further, you might seek to hire a social media copywriter for one task and an email copywriter for another task. This, at its most basic, is the idea of hyper-specialization.
As you can imagine, over the years and combined with the hyper advancement of technology, hyper-specialization will grow more and more nuanced.
Improvements in Productivity, Costs, and Quality
Just like traditionally specialized jobs presented several advantages for companies and workers alike during the industrial revolution, so too will hyper-specialization. While three of the most obvious advantages are an increase in productivity, a reduction in costs, and an improvement in quality, there’s much more where that came from…
Unlike traditional employment arrangements, hyper-specialization provides businesses and workers with a more flexible employment arrangement. Work where you want when you want, as long as the task at hand gets completed as required.
Because of this flexibility, workers are often much more satisfied, boding well for the companies that hire them.
Because of this flexibility, companies are able to increase or decrease capacity as needed. Whether you need more or fewer workers for a given task or project, hire them and release them as needed; no backlash, no hard feelings…
In fact, most workers in the world of hyper-specialization are fractional, freelance, or contract workers, preferring to be hired in this way.
Ability to Fill the Gaps
In a traditionally specialized world, companies are restricted by needing to hire a knowledge-based worker, even if they simply need a specific task taken care of. This can result in a discrepancy of skills across departments.
In a hyper-specialized world, however, companies are able to redefine a job title, seeking only to hire for specific skills and tasks. Not only does this provide them with the ability to fill gaps, but it also provides cost-saving opportunities, productivity increases, and quality control capabilities as discussed earlier.
Understanding how a traditionally specialized, knowledge-based job is changed by hyper-specialization will prepare you as an employer to hire, manage, and vet for the most suitable talent.
By adapting to the times and learning to work with the developments of hyper-specialization rather than resisting them, you as a business, brand, or worker will be better prepared to succeed in the face of technological advancements.
While hyper-specialization is yet to be clarified in terms of what the employment and economic landscape will look like, over the course of the next five years and beyond, hyper-specialized talent will become the norm, changing the way that we operate, both in the workforce and society at large forever.