De-robotizing is the real trend in the digital economy

There is a lot of attention in the media about the Internet of Things (IOT) and the robotization of out information society. Techno-euforia and technofobia dominate the perception and tend to distract us from what the real fundamental question is.

In the next decade smart machines will enter offices, factories, and home in numbers we have never seen before. The Internet of Things leads to a world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in business processes. Machines will take over some parts of the cognitive processing in complex situations by applying contextual intelligence. Robotization will evolve from automating manual activities, like assembling a car, to automating cognitive activities, like deciding about the eligibility for a credit, benefit or grant.

As machines replace humans in some tasks, and augment us in others, their largest impact may be less obvious: their very presence among us will force us to confront important questions.
  • What are humans uniquely good at?
  • What is our comparative advantage?
  • And what is our place alongside these machines?
We will have to rethink the content of our work and our work processes in response. Moreover, consequently we also have to rethink the way we educate and learn. Aspects like pattern recognition, asking questions, critical thinking, creative exploration and design, action learning and spontaneous collaboration will become corner stones of new ways to educate and learn.

Rethinking work and work processes puts the focus on sense making and de-robotizing. However, de-robotizing is not about putting robots on the junk yard.

It is about enriching work, setting free creativity and imagination. It is also about engagement and motivation; catalyzing Daniel Pink's autonomy, mastery and purpose.

Higher level "sense-making" skills will be increasingly valued as humans leverage data to create unique insights critical to decision making and to exploit business moments in line with the strategy of the organization. Building, maintaining and personalizing knowledge kernels, that can be used in business moments and operational events, becomes a new industry. Not only innovative consultancy organizations, but also a broad range of new (micro-)entrepreneurs will seize opportunities by creating/composing these knowledge kernels and connect them to function kernels. The dawn of Knowledge as a Service (KaaS) has arrived.

De-robotizing enables smarter work for a wide range of professions, not only for higher educated. After all, imagination and association capabilities enable humans to create products and add value in all sorts of domains,assuming they are provided with the right tools. The possibilities for innovation are almost infinite.

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