I as noodling on how automation was affecting industries. And I was also noodling about cloud in my role at VMware.
And that got me thinking about what is going on with retail because it is the Christmas season.
Amazon is forcibly re-engineering the entire retail supply chain to be digital.
You use a mobile device to find and then buy stuff. If your business doesn’t have a mobile presence, your business is not reaching a staggering number of customers.
The change from brick-and-mortar to digital interaction is so huge that it’s got its own name: Digital Transformation.
Then this got me thinking about, how does this affect society?
The computers sitting in the cloud are doing the job of the retail employee who would help you find stuff, and then ring you up at the register.
This retail season, I spent a lot of time thinking about the macro of the cloud. And I realized that the macro of the cloud is that anyone in the retail industry is moving to a cloud service model because they need a peek burst capacity. During the gift-giving season, retail makes more money and employs more people than at any point in time. And the total number of people they require during the low retail season is significantly less.
And the computing capacity required during the low retail season is significantly lower. And since the fixed cost of peek burst capacity is very high, it makes a lot of sense to spin up capacity on demand in the cloud.
And that got me thinking – what happened before?
And the answer is what we used to call seasonal hiring.
And if I was right then the impact of automation on seasonal hiring should already be visible in hiring patterns.
And lo and behold:
Last year’s job gains were 1.4 percent lower than 2014 figures, according to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics cited by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “We continue to move from brick-and-mortar toward click-and-order,” Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John A. Challenger said in a statement. “But even in the internet era of holiday shopping that means that brick-and-mortar fulfillment facilities need seasonal workers.”