Future of Work: Professional skills needed in the dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution

Posted on: June 16, 2017 by Peter Kalmijn

The 21st century asks for new cognitive skills, required to succeed academically and technically, including critical thinking, non-routine problem solving, and systems thinking. Mental fluency, discipline and high motivation, and a healthy interest in complexity are in demand. Preambles to autonomous learning, which is required to see and learn what not yet is being taught. And to challenge and investigate evidence-based, in an objective investigative quest for facts. Behavior that permeates science. Forensic thinking is yet another thing that is required for 21st areas of work, like Forensic Data Analytics, Information risk management and even more for all new evolving forensic activities.

The 21st century puts way more emphasis on the use of information, over the possession and ability to reproduce of facts and figures. This will increase exponentially, as more data is produced by IoT and other sources. And is transformed into information without disclosing the sources, means, and algorithms of this transformation. Finding evidence of reliability, and coping with biases will make a huge difference.

Information literacy

Information literacy is demanded, which includes research on sources, discerning fake information. However, the old school system by putting emphasis on 'giving the answer that is in the book' is becoming obsolete fast, and probably this is in the future even highly undesired. Differentiation from the crowd has become enormously important in the life of professionals and to the delivery of services to all businesses.


Adaptations to both the school system and the adult training are key to provide 21st-century businesses with capable 21st-century professionals. Including hands-on forensic exercises are highly advisable to be integrated into the curriculum. Students should be asked to develop and test a number of hypotheses. And to work them to probable scenarios. This will stimulate them to think and reason through questions, ideas, and the information gathered. Learning the methodological foundations of science.

Both Big Data Analytics and Social Technologies ask for Forensic Thinking skills

As sources provide for an ever increasing volume of information, the ability to evaluate (fake) assumptions, cope with bias and individual perceptions to uncover facts and expose fake. These forensic thinking skills support creative thinking processes and founded decision-making and problem-solving, knowing how to learn the right reasoning. Forensic thinking encourages professionals to use both collaborative and research-oriented techniques to fill gaps and connect dots, in order to verify insights provided by Data Analytics. Testing out assumptions rather than simply listing assumptions.

Forensic describes the work of scientists examining evidence in order to find the facts and scientifically truth of things.

Forensic thinking is about taking nothing for granted, to research for facts. To be explicit in assumptions and only to make definitive statements about facts that are trusted and verified. Plausible is just not good enough. Observation, collecting and documenting the facts, and finally, deduction marks professional forensic traits. Jumping to conclusions is alien to forensic thinking. Ideally, any good Data Scientist approaches his work in this manner. And produces valuable and reliable fact-based results.

The forensic thinker can only be 100% certain of the evidence and analysis that he or she performed or examined directly. He can only make informed statements about the probability of what has been observed or measured objectively. Anything else would be like throwing a guess how likely a dice turn up a 6 - without knowing for certain how many sides the dice has.

Presenting forensic conclusions

Forensic thinking is not enough. The results of the effort are to be shared and presented to an audience. And present their verdict in probabilities, often barely understood by their audiences. This leads to the conclusion that to be successful, forensic thinking needs to be accompanied by good presenting and speaking skills.

Key issues and impact

  • In the 21st century, the use of information prevails over fact-knowledge;
  • Investing only in developing technical skills is clearly not enough in the 21st century;
  • New skills will require different basic skills;
  • Both cognitive skills and social intelligence is needed for the 21st-century;

Teaching inquiry-based science is a good idea to develop forensic and critical thinking.

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About Peter Kalmijn
Business Engineer of the Digital Transformation and member of the Scientific Community
IT Consultant at Atos, Netherlands. Peter is a visual-spatial thinker with an international multi-cultural background. He has a special interest in IoT, Automated Decisioning, Enterprise Decision Management and Business Rules. And combines his interest in creative ways with over 30 years of IT experience gained with business- and software engineering. Peter authored various papers and articles and speaks at events. Additionally, he is lead-trainer of the Atos EDM related courses. He dedicates his time helping organizations with Digital Transformation. Peter is thought-leader of the Atos competence Business Information Analysis (BIA) and Guild Master of Atos "Enterprise Decision Management". He is a member of the Scientific Community and the Atos expert network with a focus on Model Driven Development, Business Information Analysis, Process Modelling, Decision Modeling and Automated Decisioning.

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