We the humans have tried to strengthen our capabilities and simplify our living since we took our first steps on the planet by creating tools. Historically our tools has been simple, an knife an ax or a hammer. With the industrial revolution they began to take the form of powerful machines, machines that was directly controlled or steered by us.
Automation made it possible to delegate some of the required control to a computer, or to the «logical resolver» as some might like to call it. With the physical downsizing of digital computers and their dramatically drop in cost, any machine can now be equipped with a computer enabling us to make smarter machines. To instruct these machines to do anything useful we have to develop software programs, something we have been striving to do for more than five decades.
The term «Internet of Things» mirrors the capability to equip smaller and smaller machines with more and more computing power, creating machines that can be connected into clusters or networks of interconnected machines.
While the Internet of Things movement has focused on the physical things, we must also understand that there are even more machines without any physical form, the software robots.
(Be aware that our digital world diverse from Tolkien´s world. While Sauron could not excess his final power without physical form, requiring access to the ring of power, the formless robots of cyber space has no such limitation).
These logical machine´s or computer programs exists in the cyberspace and do a lot of work such as buying and selling stocks, oil cargos and optimising value chains. They perform the tasks they are programmed to do, including learning and adapting to a changing environment.
With digitalisation, firms will compete not only by providing the better physical machines, but also on their ability to develop and deploy logical machines, automating / actively supporting their processes, it be designing an oil well or diagnosing a cancer patient.
This is also the reason digitalisation will drive radical change to how we thing about tool making. Traditionally, disciplines, being a civil engineer, geologist or medical doctor have been driven by the possibility to perform their trade directly and they have developed the tools needed for such direct involvement, it be the scalpel or the screw driver.
With digitalisation, firms, it be hospitals, oil companies or car manufacturers will need to use their best experts not only to perform their trade directly, but also to involve them in the development and deployment of digital assets or assistants that can perform parts, if not all of their work, or directly support a more junior practician.
This represents a major shit in how we think of professions and professionals. Firstly, disciplines are forced to become tool makers. Secondly professionals are forced to work with other professionals creating tools. For many professionals this imply that they must spend time with programmers creating the software that captures their insights and knowledge so execution can be left to a computer.
The benefits from this change is that suddenly the expert is available 24 hours a day, He or she is not tired any more and their knowledge become institutionalised and available for other more junior practicians.
The downside is that professions need to change their way of thinking about their profession. They might also need to change behaviour and culture. They need to think of themselves as toolmakers, not only tool users.