Artificial Intelligence

Trends Shaping Machine Learning in 2017

Technologies in the field of data science are progressing at an exponential rate. The introduction of Machine Learning has revolutionized the world of data science by enabling computers to classify and comprehend large data sets. Another important innovation which has changed the paradigm of the world of the tech world is Artificial Intelligence (AI). The two technological concepts, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, are often used as interchangeable terms. However, it is important to understand that both technologies supplement each other and are essentially different in terms of their core functions.

It is often predicted by technology enthusiasts and social scientists that human beings in the workforce will soon be replaced by self-learning robots. It is yet to be seen whether there lies any truth in these predictions or not but for 2017, the following trends have been prominent in the development of Machine Learning.

Giant companies will develop Machine Learning based Artificial Intelligence systems

In 2016, we saw many prominent developments in the domain of Machine Learning, and numerous artificial intelligence applications found a way to our phone screens and caught our attention. In the previous year, companies just touched the tip of the iceberg and in 2017, we will continue to see more developments in the field of machine learning. Big names such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and IBM are already fighting a development war. Google and Amazon launched successful apps, which include Amazon Echo and Google Home, at the beginning of the year, and we have yet to see what these tech giants have in stores for their customers.

Algorithm Economy will be on the Rise

Businesses greatly value data to take the appropriate actions, whether it is to understand the consumer demand or comprehend a company’s financial standing. However, it is not the data alone they should value because without an appropriate algorithm, that data is worth nothing. Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice President of Gartner Research, says that, “Data is inherently dumb and the real value lies in the algorithms which deduce meaningful results from a cluster of meaningless data”.

Algorithm Economy has taken center stage for the past couple of years, and the trend is expected to follow as we expect to see further developments in machine learning tools. The use of algorithm economy will distinguish small players from the market dominators in 2017. Small businesses that have just entered the transitional phase of embedding machine learning processes in their business models will be using canned algorithms in tools such as BI, CRM and predictive analysis. On the contrary, large enterprises will use proprietary ML algorithms.

Expect more Interaction between Machine and Humans

Google Home and Amazon Echo received an exceedingly positive response from the audience which made it evident that consumers perceive human-machine interaction positively. Innovative technologies embedded with machine learning processes prove to be helpful under various circumstances; for example, helping people with eyesight issues to navigate. But will they completely replace human-human interaction? Maybe 25 years down the road, but we do not see that happening anytime soon. Machine learning has made it increasingly possible for machines to learn new skills, such as to sort, analyze and comprehend. But nevertheless, there are certain limitations to it. Automated cars have frequently been tested, and even with modified algorithms and advanced technologies, the chance of an error is still present. This example alone is enough to convince that machines will not completely replace humans, at least not anytime soon.

Conclusion

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence is a promising field with much potential for growth. We have seen some recent developments in the sector which, not long ago, people believed were not possible. Therefore, we cannot give a definite verdict regarding the industry’s potential for growth. However for now, intelligent machines are only capable of handling the repetitive tasks and can follow a predetermined pattern. It lacks the skill to figure out things which are out of the ordinary, and we still require human intervention for keeping the chaos at bay in such situations.

Ronald van Loon is Advisory Board Member and Big Data & Analytics course advisor for Simplilearn. He will contribute his expertise towards the rapid growth of Simplilearn’s popular Big Data & Analytics category.

If you would like to read Ronald van Loon future posts then please click ‘Follow‘ and feel free to also connect on LinkedIn and Twitter to learn more about the possibilities of Big Data .

This article was originally posted on SimpliLearn

Source: Trends Shaping Machine Learning in 2017 | Ronald van Loon | Pulse | LinkedIn

Cloud Is Growing, But Will It Be Your Organisation’s Downfall?

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Written by Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software | Specially for The HR Tech Weekly®.

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Hesham El Komy, Senior Director, International Channels at Epicor Software

The reality today is that most enterprise applications are well on their way to being cloud based. We’ve seen it with simple workloads such as HR and payroll, travel and expense management, and in the last decade we’ve seen the cloud as the new normal for customer relationship management (CRM) deployments. In fact, a July 2016 Gartner report[1] predicts that the public cloud services market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will grow by 18.3% in 2016 to US$879.3 million. More specifically, the cloud application services (SaaS) market is forecasted to grow by a staggering 207% from US$166.1 million in 2015 to US$509.8 million in 2020.

So what are the benefits of cloud based ERP solutions? Below are eight reasons why moving your ERP system to the cloud will benefit your business and support business growth.

  1. Freedom of Choice

Put quite simply, not all cloud ERP systems are created equal. Specifically, very few ERP vendors respect your right to choose the deployment model that is most appropriate for you, and revise that decision down the road as your business grows or technical needs change. Your right to transition between on-premises, multi-tenant, and single tenant is an important one. It recognises that the “best” deployment model for you today might not be the best model in a few years, or even a few months. By providing the choice of Multi-Tenant (with its compelling economics and seamless upgrades) or Single Tenant (allowing more administrative control and administrative ownership), you can choose the model that works best for you.

  1. Compelling Cloud Economics

Despite the cloud having proven its value beyond just good financial sense, there is no doubt that for companies of all sizes the economics of cloud deployment are undeniably compelling, moving from capital to operational expenditure. Some of the more hidden economic benefits of the cloud include:

  • Not being as capital intensive as an on-premises deployment because of the subscription-based pricing model.
  • Better and more instant scalability, allowing clients to add (and sometimes remove) users to their system on demand and saving them from having to invest in hardware and software at the “high water mark”.
  • The direct and indirect costs of your infrastructure, from server to database systems to the actual hardware and replacement cycle cost.
  • The hidden costs of maintaining the servers yourself.
  • The benefit of the reduced deployment times (and corresponding improved ROI) that are typical for cloud deployments, as the necessary infrastructure is in place already.
  1. Better IT Resource Utilisation

At the end of the day, most IT departments are stretched pretty thin, and find themselves spending too much time on low-value (but admittedly critical) activities such as verifying backups, applying security updates, and upgrading the infrastructure upon which your critical systems run. There is tremendous business benefit to assigning those tasks back to your ERP vendor as part of a cloud deployment, freeing up your IT department’s time to work on more strategic business projects such as creating executive dashboards, deploying mobile devices, and crafting helpful management reports.

  1. The Cloud is More Secure

Today, it’s hard to imagine a client who could possibly create a more secure operating environment than leading cloud providers. Indeed, Gartner reports[2] that “Multi-tenant services are not only highly resistant to attack, but are also a more secure starting point than most traditional in-house implementations.”

Security today is a comprehensive, end-to-end mind set that has to be built across every layer of the ERP environment from the physical network interface cards to the user passwords. It means a holistic approach to anticipating and minimising possible natural, human, and technical disruptions to your system to ensure uptime and peace of mind.

  1. Upgrades

Cloud deployment redefines the experience by designing upgrades—big and small—to be deployed by the ERP cloud operations staff as part of standard support services, without imposing software installations on your staff. Minor updates are transparently deployed in a non-disruptive fashion, and major upgrades are announced well in advance, and include a sandbox training environment and end-user training.

These major upgrades are designed to require little to no project management on your part, short of double checking that everything is working the way you expect it to and ensuring that your internal users are prepared to take advantage of the new version.

  1. Mobile and Collaborative

Moving to a cloud-based system gives everyone the real-time system access they require as a routine part of their jobs while driving out the inefficiency of paper-based processes and the burden and security risk of figuring out how to deliver this yourself.

Opening up your ERP system by virtue of cloud deployment allows you to retire the poorly defined ad-hoc “integration by Excel file” workflows that might have cropped up across your organisation. In their place, you can deploy real-time integration processes that link your employees, suppliers, partners, and customers.

Cloud deployment brings the opportunity to redefine many of your legacy business processes and workflows in a way that leverages these more open, connected, instantaneous integration paths.

  1. Business Consistency and Process Alignment Globally

Increasingly, companies have staff working across multiple locations and they aspire to provide the efficiency of a single unified ERP system across the enterprise to support them. Deploying a single cloud ERP globally (where the only infrastructure requirement is Internet access) removes many operational obstacles, and gives you the confidence that your continued expansion efforts can be accommodated without a significant IT effort by simply enabling that new location in your existing cloud-based ERP system. With consistency comes improved transparency and increased efficiency.

  1. Reduced Risk, Greater Visibility, Better Value

Many clients choose a cloud-based system (ERP and other workflows) because it allows them to deploy a much more complete solution than they could otherwise manage or financially justify under legacy deployment models. Not having to make a massive upfront investment in the ERP system and its supporting infrastructure is critical in allowing smaller companies to perform beyond same-sized competitors from an enterprise application quality and completeness perspective.

ERP solutions aren’t just software. They are tools that can be used to help grow your business profitably, offering flexible solutions that provide more accurate information in real-time, driving smarter, faster decision-making, and enabling customers to quickly meet changing market demands to stay ahead of their competition. The cloud increases the business benefits that ERP offers and can accompany your business on the road to successful growth.

Sources:

[1] Gartner, Inc., “Gartner Says Public Cloud Services in the Middle East and North Africa Region Forecast to Reach $880 Million in 2016,” July 04, 2016

[2] New Report: Gartner MQ for Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting, North America

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Customer Support and Millennials: What You Need to Know!

Written by Evan Oeflein | Originally published at AnswerDash 

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Millennials are the future! You’ve likely heard the phrase countless times and for good reason: if businesses learn to treat millennials well now, they can protect that relationship for years to come. Here’s what you need to know about millennials and customer service.

With recent counts hovering around 77 million, millennials make up about one-fourth of the US population and are a rapidly growing segment of the American economy1. Combined, they wield around $2.45 trillion in annual buying power2, which makes them a valuable market and an important customer base for any business. With their substantial importance now and eventual economic dominance, it’s crucial that businesses learn to meet their needs and preferences as much as possible. However, knowing what they want isn’t always easy — they are very different from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Knowing these differences is an effective competitive edge.

The key difference when interacting with millennials is primarily in how they expect to be treated and via which channels.

Millennials are extremely self-reliant, with almost 40% of them first checking a company’s FAQ page when they have a question3. If they can’t find an answer there or their needs go unmet, four out of five millennials choose to use social media for customer service instead of through web, phone, or online chat channels4. In fact, when contacting a company, most millennials use Facebook almost twice as often as the second-most used social media, Twitter4. An important side note: nearly 25% of millennials expect to get a response on social media within 10 minutes, which can be a difficult demand to meet for many businesses4. Failing to meet expectations like these can result in unhappy millennial customers and could hurt your business.

So what steps can you take to mitigate potential issues and cater to your millennial customers?

First things first: don’t make them call customer service. Make sure they can find answers on your website as easily as possible. Consider a self-service solution to help them help themselves, so they don’t need to reach out to you with problems or issues in the first place!

To drive this point home, here are a few things millennials would rather do than call a support line and sit on hold:

  • 34% would rather have their teeth cleaned4
  • 32% would rather go shopping on Christmas Eve4
  • 26% would rather go to the DMV4

Second: Bend over backwards for your millennial customers! It’s common practice to be accommodating and helpful with any customer, but 22% of millennials say that one bad experience is enough for them to leave a brand for good5. Just a heads up that this can also include boycotting a service, with nearly a quarter of all millennials saying they would be willing to boycott a company after just one bad experience4! Yikes. And with the rapid growth of e-commerce businesses, it’s not difficult for them to leave you and shop with competition. In many ways, your relationship with them now is tied to the future success of your business: once they find a company and product they like, 80% of Millennials will keep going back6.

Whatever your approach to customer support, understand that  millennials expect to be able to find what they need themselves. If they can’t, they don’t want to spend time waiting around for you to answer them (they’d rather go to the dentist, remember?), so get back to them quickly! They’re expected to eclipse Baby Boomers in spending power by 2018, at $3.39 trillion annually7, and will make up even more of your customer base.

Since 64% of millennials feel greater brand loyalty than their Baby Boomer or Generation X parents 8, they’re more likely to stick around if you give them the support they crave! Millennials are the future and they will remember everything you do for them now.

To learn how you can help your millennial customers help themselves, take a peek at our website self-service eBook “How to help your customers help themselves”.

Sources:

(1) 2014, Millennial Consumer Report, Nielson
(2) 2014, Millennials Drive Social Commerce, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
(3) 2015, State of Service Report, Salesforce Research
(4) 2015, Customer Survey: Results & Analysis, Desk.com
(5) 2015, Millennials Research Study, Aspect
(6) 2010, 8095 Exchange: Millennial Whitepaper, Edelman Digital
(7) 2010, Gen-Y Financial Services Survey, Oracle
(8) 2014, Millennial Brand Loyalty, Adroit Digital

Source: Customer Support and Millennials: What You Need to Know!

Epicor Continues Cloud-First Strategy Rollout with the Middle East

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Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 15, 2016.

Epicor to Utilise Microsoft Azure in Its Move to Lead with Cloud Deployments for Epicor ERP in the GCC Countries and Egypt.

As more enterprises in the Middle East, including the Global Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Egypt are looking to leverage post-modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms and tools to move faster, work smarter and grow their business, Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, today announced its new cloud-first strategy for Epicor ERP deployments in the region. This follows an earlier announcement where Epicor said that it had chosen the Microsoft Azure Datacenter in Singapore to support new cloud deployments in Asia.

Sabby Gill - EVP - Epicor
Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President, Epicor Software

Commenting on the regional launch, Sabby Gill, Executive Vice President for Epicor International said, “Over the last couple of years, we have seen a growing appetite for cloud solutions from existing and new customers. Rolling out our cloud-first strategy in the Middle East means ERP customers in the region can now leverage cloud deployment benefits including business consistency, worry-free security, hassle free upgrades, reduced risk and faster time to value. Perhaps most importantly, given the current economic climate with depressed oil-prices, cloud solutions also offer lower total cost of ownership (TCO)”.

According to a report by Forrester Research, “No longer a tactical solution, cloud is a strategic enabler of connected economies. Technology leaders will orchestrate cloud ecosystems, connecting employees, customers, partners, vendors, and devices to serve rising customer expectations.”[1]

Epicor has made it easy for organisations to utilise the cloud to take advantage of a new cloud-first era of service delivery and flexibility, where ERP is delivered as a service and accompanied by value-added services to ensure scalability, security and business continuity. Building on the momentum of its successful move of hundreds of multi-tenant Epicor cloud customers to the new Epicor ERP 10.1 release in the United States and parts of Asia, Epicor is now expanding its global cloud footprint in the Middle East and Egypt.

Epicor ERP Cloud is based on the next-generation Epicor ERP solution. The on-demand system leverages core functionality that has been in use and proven at thousands of customer sites over the past 25 years. Recently recognized as a finalist in the 2016 SaaS Awards program, Epicor ERP in the cloud combines the rich feature set of Epicor ERP with the business and technical benefits of cloud deployment. The cloud-based ERP eliminates the need for separate applications, spreadsheets and “one off” processes and provides all the tools needed to manage opportunities, orders, and operations in one integrated web-based ERP solution.

“The Epicor ERP solution has been one of the strengths and indispensable tools of our business processes for the last six years,” said Raheel Shamim, business systems manager for Al Rajhi Holding Group, Building Solution Sector. “The decision by Epicor to roll out a cloud offering is not only a testament to their commitment to ensuring they provide us with best-of-breed solutions but the new strategy also affords us more choice and additional flexibility and agility, which is vital to our business growth.”

Strengthening the Partner Value Proposition

The Company’s decision to offer cloud solutions in the region has also been warmly received by the partner community. “As a channel partner, our ability to compete and stay relevant in the market hinges on us tailoring our business model to be in line with the latest technology and customer buying models. I see building a cloud practice as key to this strategy. By offering cloud solutions, Epicor is helping us on this journey by allowing us to strengthen our value proposition to both our existing and new customers”, said Vetri Selvan, managing partner for RheinBrücke IT Consulting, an Epicor partner and the winner of a 2016 Stevie award under the category of IT Specialist of the Year – Technology and Architecture.

He concluded, “The Epicor cloud offering aligns directly to our vision of helping our clients quickly adapt to a changing marketplace by ensuring that their business ecosystems are relevant, efficient and perfectly tuned. Through our consulting, technology and Epicor cloud solutions, we will be able to help our clients stay ahead of competition, grow quickly and become more profitable, at the same time affording us the opportunity to grow our revenues and margins.”

Flexible Foundation for Growth

The award-winning Epicor ERP boasts a flexible business architecture built for multitenancy that is ideal for cloud deployments. Epicor gives businesses the ability to grow with the system however deployed — multitenant, single tenant, or on premises — a unique value proposition because it’s the same code base regardless of how a company decides to deploy the solution. Epicor is initially utilising the Microsoft Azure Datacenter to support Epicor Cloud ERP deployments in the region.

Epicor Cloud ERP is available now to new and existing customers in the Middle East and Egypt. For details about the availability of specific features or availability in specific countries, contact your Epicor account manager or channel partner. For more information on Epicor Cloud ERP, please call +971 (0) 4 391 3730 or email info@epicor.com. 

[1] Forrester Research, Inc., “Cloud Powers The New Connected Economy,” by Liz Herbert and Dave Bartoletti (May 27, 2016)

About Epicor Software Corporation

Epicor-Logo-Med-Blue-RGB-GB-1015

Epicor Software Corporation drives business growth. We provide flexible, industry-specific software designed around the needs of our manufacturing, distribution, retail, and service industry customers. More than 40 years of experience with our customers’ unique business processes and operational requirements are built into every solution―in the cloud, hosted, or on premises. With this deep understanding of your industry, Epicor solutions manage complexity, increase efficiency, and free up resources so you can focus on growth. For more information, connect with Epicor or visit www.epicor.com.

Epicor and the Epicor logo are trademarks of Epicor Software Corporation, registered in the United States and other countries. Other trademarks referenced are the property of their respective owners. The product and service offerings depicted in this document are produced by Epicor Software Corporation.

Contacts:

Ahmad Sameer, EpicorAhmad Sameer

Field Marketing Manager, Epicor Middle East, Africa and India

+971 4 3913730 | asameer@epicor.com

 

Vernon SaldanhaVernon Saldanha

Procre8 (on behalf of Epicor)

+971 52 288 0850 | vernon@procre8.biz

 

High School Graduates Should Embrace Flexibility & Recruiters as They Enter College

Take Heed Millennials it Could be a Bumpy (But Exciting) Ride

It’s summer and, therefore, about 3 million students in America have graduated high school and are making plans for what to do next with their lives. In my family I have a niece that has graduated and so I’ve been giving some thought to the question (if she were to ask me): “Uncle Jason what advice do you have for me as I embark on my next adventures post-High School?”

I have posed this as a hypothetical question given that millennials often come across as having all the answers and so never give even a fleeting thought to ask an elder for advice or counsel about their futures. This thought-process has been going on for many decades, just par for the course.

Looking back I probably had the ‘know it all’ mindset as well. I wish I would have been a little more open to advice from older and wiser folks, things might have went more smoothly for me professionally. I would advise, therefore, to accept guidance from credible people that care about you—you’ll likely be glad you did.

Where does my credibility come from you ask? I am a Gen X guy who believed (almost with a religious zeal) that education was important and the more you had the better off you would be professionally. So, from 1993 until 2010 I embarked on an educational quest to attain a Doctorate in Sociology so I could teach and do research (read: save the world). Boy did I have “Big” plans.

Along the way I earned a B.A., with cum laude honors (Missouri State University), an M.A. with honors (University of Kansas), and a Ph.D. (University of Kansas). Little did I know (or care to pay attention to) the major structural changes occurring in higher education (over the past couple of decades) when I was in the midst of my educational marathon. Namely, one critical trend has been colleges and universities shifting from full-time tenure track to part-time contingent faculty teaching opportunities as a cost-saving measure. The pay and benefits for PT faculty is considerably lower than for FT faculty–and obviously this has had a major impact on recently minted Ph.D’s.

In 1969, 22% of the faculty were non-tenure track and 78% were tenure-track positions. Today, those numbers have flipped–33.5% of positions are tenure-track and 66.5% are non-tenure track/ineligible for tenure. Of course higher education is just one of many professions that has seen considerable change over the past several decades, but as a student it would have been smart for me to research the field more to know exactly what I was getting in to.

It is against this backdrop that I decided to make a major career change at 38 years of age. This certainly wasn’t what I planned when I was in my 20’s. Therefore, I think these life experiences qualify me to say a few words on the topic. Also, for more than a decade I was employed at three or four institutions of higher learning… so I’m keenly aware of some of the potential pitfalls of higher education.

So, even though no one I know that has graduated in 2016 has asked, I’m still going to take this opportunity to provide young people some advice that I think they should hear. Words to the wise I wish someone would have told me when I was 18 and heading off to college at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri.

Perhaps the easiest way to organize my thoughts is around a series of “Lies, Damned lies, and Statistics” (thanks Mark Twain) that we routinely tell our young people as they are growing up that can have negative consequences. At the end I will also pose a to-do-list of how to avoid the pitfalls that trap so many of us. As will be shown, having a recruiter on your side could serve as a real life-saver.

The truth is that millennials have been lied to in a myriad of ways so let me be your “friend at the factory” as Dr. Phil says.

The Lies

“You can be whatever you want when you grow up”

This is a classic lie that when I was growing up in the 1970’s/80’s was told over and over again ad nauseam. From the get go this doesn’t even make logical sense—even though I know it sounds great when saying it to our kids. The primary problem with this line of bull is there clearly aren’t enough “good jobs” to go around and so someone has to do the less desirable jobs (of which there are plenty).

Furthermore, it’s just a fact that some people aren’t cut out for (or have the ability to do) “the most desirable” “highest paying jobs.” You have to work with the hand you are dealt.  Some of us get a pair of Aces but most of us get a 4 and 8 off suit.

What’s more, there are approximately 12 million people who work full-time in the U.S. and the reality is an overwhelming majority (easily 3 out of 4) do not like their jobs. Several studies have indicated upwards of 70% “Hate” their jobs.

According to a recent article on salary.com, in 2015, 42% of people indicated that if they somehow became instant millionaires they’d be at the office the next day. I must call BS on this as well, and say that number is likely closer to 10%. Also noteworthy was 73% of respondents in the salary.com survey said they work “primarily for a paycheck”. This clearly supersedes all of the other ‘pie in the sky’ reasons we like to think people work: to be fulfilled, to give back to the community, to feel like I make a difference and so on.

What would be more appropriate would be to say, “Work like hell to attain highly sought after skills, abilities, and aptitudes and then be cautiously optimistic that you will reach your goals and dreams.” In other words, have a few ‘fallback’s’ ready to go in-case things beyond your control happen (and they do ALL of the time). This is also a great opportunity to seek out a professional recruiter so they can help you figure out the best career path for you.

“It’s more important to love what you do than worry about how much money you will make”

This one is a real heart-breaker for me because, as a sociologist, I told myself this lie a LOT over the years as I plowed along getting paid next to nothing to educate our youth. It’s ridiculous. If you don’t make a decent enough wage to meet your basic needs AND then have a little left over for fun and to save for the future you WILL be miserable, period. I will concur that money doesn’t = happiness. However, in order to do 90% of what you want to do in American society, it takes money. Plenty of people in America (believe me) don’t LOVE their jobs but LOVE cashing those checks if they are lucky enough to make a high salary.

“Your professional success directly correlates to how hard you work”

In other words, the harder you work the more likely your chances at professional success (and the less you work… yada yada). Oh my I could write a whole book on this lie (and maybe someday I will) – but suffice to say this part of the “American Dream” is completely dead for many people. There are millions in our country that work their asses off and get paid barely enough to survive and have a decent standard of living (and most of us are forced to work 2-3 jobs just to keep our heads above water). Since the early 1970’s the data clearly show that a gigantic majority of Americans are working harder (many more hours and increasing their productivity) for less and less pay. Millennials: be prepared to work your ass off and it *may* not translate into professional success. Sorry, that is the truth.

The Damned Lies

“Don’t worry about your Student Loan debt because once you graduate you will ‘magically’ have an amazing job that will pay you plenty to pay off those ‘pesky’ loans in no time”

This is truly a damnable lie if I ever heard one. There are many lies rolled into this one, so a little difficult to unravel. For one thing, given how expensive college has become there are a miniscule number of jobs (right out of college) that pay enough to allow a recent graduate to comfortably make their payments on the $40k or more (on average) they owe in student loans. A study in 2012 showed that in the past three decades the cost of a college degree has increased by a whopping 1,120%.  So, the cost of a college education has skyrocketed to the moon and 51% of all American workers make less than $30,000/year. What could go wrong here?

Furthermore, it’s astonishing to learn about America’s student loan debt, namely how completely out of control it is. My prediction is Student Loans are the next ‘housing bubble’. Estimates are that over $1.35 trillion is owed by current and former students and rising every day. Let me write out that number so you can let it sink in properly: $1,350,000,000,000. In by-gone eras where tuition was reasonable and wages steadily went up for *everyone* student loans were not a problem. This game has totally changed and young people need to go into college knowing the risks and potential rewards.

“The degree or degrees you earn from America’s ‘esteemed’ institutions of higher learning will virtually ‘guarantee’ you a ticket into the ‘Middle Class’” 

This one has been dead and buried for several decades now, but somehow often we still believe it (I think because we REALLY want it to be true). The facts show that much of the 2008 post-recession job growth has been in low-wage jobs. For those that choose a major where those skills, abilities, and aptitudes are in high demand – there’s a *chance* you can make it into the middle class, but there are NO guarantees.

“Colleges and Universities will provide you with excellent career counseling upon your graduation” 

Absolutely not. The hubris of our institutions of higher learning is such that most are still stuck believing in the stale notion that “You’ll have no problem getting a job because you graduated from our prestigious university” – News flash no one cares anymore about institutional hubris and reputation. Most employers could care less, believe me. You MUST go out and actively promote yourself and get on the networking train (early in the process). While you are deciding what to major in, you might also want to explore recruiting firms and start fostering relationships with these critical folks as soon as possible.

The Statistics

I could provide a treasure chest of anecdotes on how statistics lie like a sidewalk, but for brevity I’ll just point out one that routinely bothers me.

“Even though college costs are completely out of control, college is still worth it” 

The article will inevitably go on and on providing some BS statistics about how ‘in general’ it’s still a good idea. Tell that to the person who has an over-priced degree or degrees and can’t land a decent job to save his/her life. Believe me, they could care less about some dumb ‘longitudinal study’ showing how great college is—no matter what the costs and sacrifices are.

Just because some statistic says that those with an A.A. or B.A. make ‘slightly more’ over their lifetimes than someone without those degrees should NOT make the scam of college magically “worth it.”

What Should you Do?

So, hopefully you haven’t jumped off a cliff at this point and become too depressed. I’ve tried to present the state of affairs in a truthful fashion (based on personal experience and data when it’s available) so you know the rules of the game and what to expect. Now let me put some ‘verbs in my sentences’ and provide a tangible ‘to-do-list’ of things that I wish I had done. Take these seriously and you have a chance to be much happier than the 7 out of 10 people who dislike their jobs.

  • Contact several recruiting firms in your area and try to find a potential match early in your schooling. Do NOT rely on your college/university to provide any assistance in this critical process. Professional recruiters have grown by leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades and can be an absolute life-saver for those trying to navigate the tricky labor market waters.
  • Manage your expectations! Don’t believe the hype about how great your professional life is going to be – understand the realities of the U.S. economy in 2016 and that there are only so many things YOU can control.
  • Work very hard. Be ready to consistently put in maximum effort in the classroom and in your professional pursuits.
  • Do not wrap your ‘happiness’ in what you do for a living. This is so much easier said than done (honestly I still struggle mightily with this one). Seek professional help if you can’t disavow yourself from this notion.
  • While in college explore what types of avocations and other activities you would like to contribute to your community that are NOT work related. It is likely that these pursuits will be where you truly find happiness and fulfillment. In my case I’ve chosen to be a football and basketball official—incredibly rewarding.
  • Base your choice of major/minor not ONLY on what you are passionate about but also where there is the most demand. As much time as you study the things assigned to you by your generally out of touch professors spend a sizable amount of time also studying what the hot jobs are and how you plan to get one of those jobs.
  • Put ‘networking’ as one of your goals/skills as you work toward your degree(s). Be sure you have a LinkedIn profile and be extremely careful about what kinds of ‘social media’ you share with your potential employers.
  • Do a Return on Investment (ROI) analysis in regard to how much risk (student loan debt) you are willing to take on given the salary you *may* earn post-graduation. Be willing to go to a less expensive school (and be proud as hell to do so) knowing that you are making a much sounder financial decision than your peers who are overpaying at vastly overrated schools (that likely have an unhealthy opinion of themselves).
  • When you work during your college years (whether in the summer or during the regular school year) open up an IRA savings account with a trusted financial adviser. I don’t care if you can only afford to contribute $10/month, do it. This will help you learn the power of investing smartly and why it’s so important to save as much money as you can. You will be amazed at how your money can grow—if you have 30+ years to let it grow (and you do).
  • The Economy/Market are fluid and apt to abrupt change (in the supply and demand of labor) – so be ready to be flexible and nimble as you navigate your professional trajectory. Totally disregard the notion that you will spend your entire career at one or two entities. The reality is you will likely be on the move much more frequently.
  • Enjoy your college experience! If you only view it as a ‘means to an end’ for a high paying job you will truly miss out on many of the wonderful aspects of college that have nothing to do with materialism or financial gain. One of my fondest memories of college was being part of (and President my Junior year) of a Co-Ed Service Fraternity (Alpha Phi Omega) at Missouri State (Beta Mu Chapter). It was with this group that I learned the power and satisfaction of doing for others in one’s local community. I still try and carry out this mission at 40. The seed was planted when I was 18.

Conclusion

Congratulations to all 3+ million millennials who graduated in the spring. You should feel proud of your accomplishments and look forward to having a successful professional career. However, it’s crucial to know the game you are getting into and work hard at adapting to changes in the economy and the labor market. The ‘old’ rules just don’t work like they used to. As long as you go in with your eyes wide open you will have a much better chance of navigating successfully around the potholes that are inevitably in your paths.

Featured Service: Student Loan Hero


Source: High School Graduates Should Embrace Flexibility & Recruiters as They Enter College – Crelate