Have you ever considered a career as a knocker-upper?
No, we’re not making an obscene suggestion. Knocker-upper was actually a real job in the 1800s and early 1900s.
You see, before alarm clocks became affordable, people who lived in cities needed a way to make sure that they woke up in time for work. The solution was to hire a knocker-upper, a person who would, for a very small sum, tap on your window each morning to wake you up. Some of them carried long poles to reach second story windows, while others used pea shooters. Often older people who could no longer do other kinds of physical labor performed the job, but it was also a source of extra income for some policemen who were already out doing their rounds anyway.
Eventually, of course, alarm clocks became inexpensive, and the last knocker-upper stopped working in the 1970s. And lots of other jobs have all but disappeared as well. Blacksmiths, typesetters, phrenologist, ice cutters, and many others were once perfectly common occupations made obsolete by advancements in science and technology.
Could pricing analysts one day become obsolete?
It’s certainly the case that technology is able to do more and more things that once required a pricing professional. It’s not impossible to imagine that some organizations would see fit to one day lay off an entire pricing department.
But we would argue that whether or not your particular role becomes obsolete depends on your personal mindset.
Let’s go back to those knocker-uppers for a minute. If you were a knocker-upper and viewed your job as “waking up early to tap on people’s windows,” clearly that role no longer exists.
But if you had defined your role as “helping people wake up to get to work on time,” you might have broadened your skillset and branched into other areas that helped keep you employed. Maybe you could have sold alarm clocks or watches. The sales pitch wouldn’t really have been that different — and the hours and pay might have been considerably better.
In the same way, if you consider your pricing role to be “setting prices,” it’s very possible that one day a computer could take over your job. But if you view your job more strategically as “proactively creating conditions under which better and more profitable outcomes are the natural result,” you might just futureproof your career and open the right doors to more personal fulfilment.
As a bonus, this more strategic mindset pays off whether or not the pricing profession goes the way of knocker-uppers. If you are thinking more strategically, you’ll be helping improve your organization’s revenues and margins, which will be good for the entire business — not just your career.
If you’re intrigued by this idea, we encourage you to check out the following resources:
Unless you still love at home with your mom, you probably don’t use a knocker-upper today. In fact, chances are good that you don’t even have one of the alarm clocks that made knocker-uppers obsolete. You probably wake up to an alarm from your phone or some other kind of smart device in your house. And while we don’t have an actual stats to prove this point, we think that the number of people involved in manufacturing and selling smartphone and smart devices probably far exceeds the number who were employed as knocker-uppers.
The need to be woken up never went away. It was just that the means for meeting this need changed a bit.
The need to have good prices will also never go away. And if you approach this need strategically, your job title might change, but a role for people like you will continue to exist.
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