The fourth industrial
revolution refers to the increasing integration of new technologies, such as digital
systems, artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented reality, 3D
printing and the internet of things, into businesses and processes. Its scale
and speed are unmatched; from breakthroughs in biotechnology that allow organs
to be 3D printed to robots that can assist in hospitals and even rebuild
Some believe that this will make businesses more sustainable,
efficient and environmentally friendly. However, others think that these new
digital technologies will cause millions to lose their jobs and increase
economic inequality. The exact impact of the revolution still looks vague and doubtful.
But what is certain is the effect of this latest industrial revolution on every
activity: production, communication, working, learning, and the way we do
Business operations are already undergoing
a shift from analog to digital. Companies are seeking to transform digitally,
and many have already adjusted to using cloud apps for their business processes.
There is an App for almost every task nowadays, from scheduling to dictation
and much more. Even if the consumer is one who is barely tech-savvy, there is a
big chance that they have used some sort of a software to manage an errand. The
need for manual data entry is slowly vanishing as digital Apps have facilitated
automatic data entry and exchange. Our new norm is turning to be a world that
is smart and connected. Examples include the shift in transportation; where car
sharing and services like Uber and Cabify are altering the idea of car
ownership. Advances in the Internet of things and clean energy can boost safety
for both drivers and pedestrians, reduce pollution, enhance health and expedite
daily traveling. Additionally, in the retail industry; virtual customer service
is taking over marketing and sales, and personalization of goods is changing
everything. Other industries which are majorly affected include healthcare,
insurance, finance and agriculture.
One of the main changes in businesses will
be a result of customer’s increasing power and expectations. Customers now have the accessibility
to more data, they have many options to choose from and hence they hold more
influence. They are already becoming more powerful, and to match that power
companies must design and shape operations around customer journeys. Moreover, the
expectations of customers have significantly risen. Millennials, who are now a
big part of the workforce, expect businesses to anticipate their desires and
provide customized solutions and support. As customers are the center of the
digital economy and technologies, businesses who wish to be successful should
redirect their approach from a model that is focused only on selling products
to one that revolves around creating and building a deep connection and
relationship with customers. For example, 3D printing brings manufacturing directly
to the customers and makes maintenance easier and cheaper. The existing technologies
and services around us have evolved, raising customer experience’s expectations.
Therefore, businesses should no longer expect customers to wait on the
telephone for an answer that can be easily obtained from social media or a Google
Since the fourth industrial revolution is
based on knowledge; businesses will need a breakthrough in training and education.
Workers must be taught the skills needed to participate in the digital world
and the qualifications required to understand new technologies. For instance, employees
will not be able to explore opportunities created by artificial intelligent if
they do not have an advanced knowledge of the field.
way to achieve this is by encouraging businesses to establish partnerships and
collaborations, both internally and externally, to widen their network and
optimize their strength.
though technology is indeed shaping the future
of work, it is not entirely erasing the need for humans. But it is changing the
skills needed to be a part of the workforce and modernizing the workplace. If
the workforce keeps up with education, it will be able to fill the new emerging
jobs. This is how job elimination by machines can be reduced to a minimum, and
a sense of security can be achieved. It is argued that,
just like previous industrial revolutions, the fourth industrial revolution
will not only eliminate millions of jobs but will also create millions of new
jobs by transforming professions and skillsets.
Another aspect that will cause a change in
business is the enormous amount of data. Many innovative products and services
are currently being driven by Artificial Intelligence, and the more data Artificial
Intelligence has, the easier predictions can be made. When billions of people use
connected devices and share online, a lot of data is generated as a result. These
billions of data variables are analysed by machine learning algorithms to help
businesses notice trends in customer demands, customize products and reform
pricing. Hence making businesses smarter. As data becomes the new currency, its
free flow leads to privacy concerns. This will require businesses to protect
their intellectual property by a global regulations system. It is critical to
preserve and protect sensitive personal information for individual customers and
assure that optimizing systems do not run out of control.
addition, the fourth industrial revolution will force businesses to operate
faster and at a lower cost. This is extremely challenging as companies will
have to re-examine their cost structure to study how they can still product high
quality outputs with the same, or even fewer, resources.
Businesses looking to embrace and adopt the
revolution should fundamentally change what they are doing. They must focus more
on incorporating new technologies into their processes than highlighting the
risks involved. As real value can only be achieved when these new technologies
are used together, organizations need to have a new vision and operating model
that leverages all of these technologies. Furthermore, managers, consultants
and practitioners need to reassess the way they approach and solve problems.
There is no doubt that
the broadness of technological innovations in the fourth industry revolution is
radically reshaping the way we do business. And this entails a high risk that
if companies are not willing to actively seek to be a smart connected business,
they will be in danger of being left behind as a result of the rise of the industrial
revolution. When companies succeed in adapting to the new realm, digitalization
will be very beneficial to the people in the future. Therefore, both the
opportunities and the threats of the fourth industrial revolution need to be
pointed out for businesses to be prepared to step up their approach and look
forward to a bright future.