This article appeared in ING Wholesale Magazine, “FUTURE VIEW: The top 5 tech game changers” August 2017. It contains interviews with Peter Sondergaard (Gartner), professor Arjan van den Born (Jheronimus Academy of Data Science), Angela Daly (author of Socio-Legal Aspects of the 3D Printing Revolution), Susanna Koelblin (textile industry expert), Mark Buitenhek (Transaction Services ING), Menno Lantingand (business author) and Marcel Bullinga (futurist). Bullinga’s contribution is highlighted here. See also Bullinga’s “Vision for the financial sector in 2030” for recruitment company Hays.

Autonomous air taxis, exoskeletons to put disabled people back on their feet again or 3D printed car parts: we’re no longer amazed when we hear reports of such new developments. But which technologies are really set to change the rules of the game in the boardroom in the next 10 years?

The surge in robotisation is linked to rapidly developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data science. It is for this reason that futurist Marcel Bullinga uses the term ‘robot’ to mean ‘artificial intelligence and algorithms in a package’. The futurist believes that everything will be a robot: your car, your home and devices including your mobile phone. “Robots will not only replace humans in production work but also in advisory work. Robots with AI applications will act as personal assistants, which means that apps – which only provide advice on a limited area – will also disappear. This even threatens Google, because it means you will be able to do without a search engine as an interface.”

The emergence of robo-advisers will have major implications for organisations. Companies will have to have the courage to imagine their own redundancy. It is from this perspective that they should think about what they want to offer to customers, according to Bullinga. “For example: what advisory services will my customers still need once robots have taken over most of them?” Bullinga also expects robots to make middle managers redundant. “It means we will eventually be able to make the switch to flatter, self-governing organisations.”