U.NXT looks ahead to technological and creative developments in 2020

As the year comes to a close, it is time to look ahead and envision what 2020 might bring. Several trends have developed in the workplace during the last year that are sure to persist into the next: Increasing automation, (big) data analysis and creativity. As an educational institution, U.NXT recognizes these trends and strives to educate our students for the trends and jobs of tomorrow.

More and more devices become smarter, more advanced and increasingly connected to the internet-of-things (IoT). The IoT is the network of devices that can interact with each other without human intervention, such as smart home concepts or fleet monitoring in transport. Chips continue getting cheaper and faster, facilitating in integrating almost anything into the big cloud of data that is our digital life.

The digital revolution offers us the chance to automate almost any repetitive task, making our lives less complicated and increasing productivity. This can happen on many levels, from an automated data input system replacing a secretary to complete robotic assembly lines. Even jobs that are traditionally seen as expert roles are susceptible to this – for example, a doctor diagnosing a patient is a data-driven repetitive task that can also be performed by artificial intelligence. In fact, AI has already been shown to outperform medical professionals. The future is therefore not likely for the traditional workers, but for those that can design and develop these automated systems.

Our students are well prepared for the current revolutions in manufacturing, with for example, the course of robotic process automation. That said, there are more possibilities beyond automation alone. Users demand ever increasingly impressive feats of their smart devices, which in turn require more advanced sensors to operate correctly. The increased digitalization and explosion of IoT devices therefore bring enormous amounts of (sensor) data with them, which can be analyzed for increased insight, optimization or even sheer profit.

Humans tend to be imperfect, forgetting things and doing things in ineffective ways. When a process is automated and always executed in the exact same way, small changes can have big impacts – especially since these processes tend to scale well. However, data analysis isn’t always for automated process improvement.

Sometimes, the date is from product users themselves and analyzed by algorithms to for example provide suitable movie recommendations or advertisements. For companies such as Google or Facebook, the collected user data is a valuable currency to be sold to the highest bidder. In business, the data analysis can be used to predict how markets will develop or provide insight into how a company has recently performed.
With repetitive tasks taken care of by automation, different demands are placed on the people in the workforce that used to perform them. Multidisciplinary approaches are rapidly becoming the norm and supported by our “thinking outside the design box” course. In a world that is becoming more rigidly structured by automation, initiative and creativity are valued even more highly than ever before.

Creativity can also be expressed in new ways, as Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) will be found more commonly on the work floor. Examples can include AR overlays for schematics, navigation or checking automated processes. Virtual reality environments can be used for simulator training, interfacing with design prototypes or rapidly visualizing data in 3D. Clearly the possibilities are endless, and our students can make them happen with their AR/VR programming skills.

The world is always changing, but we change with it. At the forefront of innovation, U.NXT students will ride the waves of these trends to create, analyze and automate. ARE YOU NXT?

Good luck with your endeavors in 2020!