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FORBES Feb 2013

by Jennie S. Bev

Parts of the world today, especially Santa Clara in Silicon Valley where I
reside, has reached the post-industrialism or “knowledge economy” era. In Indonesia,
hints of post-industrialism can already be sensed. Indonesia is aware of the
power of post-industrialism, and it helps to have persons such as Mari Elka
Pangestu as the minister of tourism and creative economy.

A post-industrial society is created when the service sector produces more
wealth than the manufacturing sector. In a newer definition, a post-industrial
society is one in which innovative products and services are primarily created by
individuals working with strong scientific and artistic knowledge.

Silicon Valley and Hollywood are good examples of a knowledge or post-industrial
economy. The main characteristic of this economy is creativity, with continuous
invention and re-invention. A post-industrial person is future-oriented and is highly
innovative regardless of the field. Instead of manufacturing products and being
a rank-and-file employee or executive, or even a factory worker by following
orders and having a rigid job description, they are individuals who are set to replace
the Industrial Revolution’s workers. 

Consequently, the environment has become highly competitive. When Adam
Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations, massive
consumption and making as much profit as possible required massive amounts of
capital. In a knowledge economy, those who have access to funding might no
longer be the strongest players.

In a knowledge economy, the most important player is the one with the most
“innovative capital.” In Silicon Valley, they are IT geeks. In the movie
industry, they are the independent producers. In other fields, they are the innovative
scientists. For the first time in history, the strongest capital isn’t money, as
money doesn’t translate into creativity and innovation.

The time for winning through intellect and knowledge has come. Indonesia needs
to develop such people, as most have limited skills and training. The Indonesian
education system is notorious for its rote learning and restricting creativity.
Yet some Indonesians are genius knowledge information players.

A multimedia company based in Batam and Singapore, Infinite Studios,
founded by Mike Wiluan, for example, is an internationally known
post-industrial player. Sehat Sutardja of Marvell Technology in Silicon Valley,
another example, is a highly respected inventor and entrepreneur with 150 international
patents. Kaskus, a Web-based community with 4,000,000 registered users, was
created by Andrew Darwis, Ronald Stephanus and Budi Dharmawan as students in
Seattle. Indonesian Internet companies have started to gain the interest of global
venture capitalists.

For Indonesia to transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge
economy requires more than a shift of consciousness and upgrading skills. It
requires, above all, a shift from compartmentalized societal aspects to a
synchronized network of catalystic changemakers. In other words, it requires a
boost led by individuals who are more than experts in their fields, they must
be inspirational. 

Without Steve Jobs, the world would
not have seen Apple products. After all, a knowledge economy is no longer a
mass economy; it is a unique economy in which added values cannot be simply made
by machinery, they will come from an individual’s unique talents, skills and
knowledge. []

Forbes Indonesia, February 2013

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