Innovating in the 4th Industrial Revolution

July 13, 2021 - 7 minutes read

Throughout the history of mankind, we humans have used our innate curiosity and intellect to radically reshape the world we live in. From our no-so-distance cave-dwelling ancestors to today’s sophisticated space-faring society, in an instant of time (cosmologically speaking) we’ve transformed what it means to live as a human being. Known as industrial revolutions, today, we can now identify distinct chapters in our recent history that mark a technological turning point in innovation and human flourishing enabled through a fundamental evolution in technological capability.

For instance, 1784 marks the first industrial revolution known for harnessing the power of the combustion engine, steam power, mechanization, and weaving loom. This technological revolution led to immense human flushing, business opportunity, and economic growth.  As a result, new technology-enabled hospitals were built, such as the Boston-local Massachusetts General Hospital, one of three hospitals in the united states at the time.

In 1870, the advent of the assembly line, mass production, and electrical energy marked the beginning of the second industrial revolution. This chapter in human innovation was known for enabling a global marketplace and making consumer goods more accessible and affordable for the common person. 1969, marked the beginning of the third industrial revolution where automation, computers, and electronics reshaped society as we know it allows us to live in a technological future that would only have been dreamed about 100 years earlier. And today, we embark on our next phase of the journey, the fourth industrial revolution.

Economic Projections for the 4th Industrial Revolution

The fourth industrial revolution, also known as industry 4.0, marks the next major chapter in technological innovation. Known for an acceleration in the technological capability of artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), genetic engineering, quantum computing, this fourth technological revolution is projected to fundamentally disrupt nearly every aspect of our lives, and radically reshape the economic foundation in which our global economy is built. Specifically, this radical revolution is identified by four technological advancements: high-speed mobile Internet, Artificial intelligence and automation, big data analytics, and cloud computing.

Recent projections for the 4th industrial revolution gathered by the McKinsey Global Institute Report suggest that nearly one-fifth of the global workforce will be impacted primarily through the proliferation of artificial intelligence technology. This, in response to a recent survey that showed that 50% of companies believe that automation will decrease their numbers of full-time staff by 2030 effectively replacing 800 million worker’s jobs across the world.

So, what does this mean for organizations as we anticipate this monumental market shift? We believe it’s important to remain optimistic, curious, and open to new opportunities in the face of this major economic technological shift. Remember, with change comes opportunity.

The Cost of Competition

One major consideration that every business needs to take into account is that your organization will, without a doubt be affected by artificial intelligence. Consider a situation where you offer a specific good or service and you’ve determined your market price based on what the market is willing to pay.

Now, you have a competitor that opts to leverage artificial intelligence and work automation to drive down their operational costs and in doing so can offer the same good or service for half the price that you are able to offer your good or service. This basic economic principle exhibits how every organization, even those that do not want to incorporate artificial intelligence into their organization is going to be forced, to remain economically competitive and viable.

Identifying Opportunity

Identifying how your organization can radically shift in its operations and bring viable solutions to this AI-influenced market is not going to be easy, specifically due to the nature of this revolution. Unlike the approaching fourth industrial revolution, previous technology-driven market shifts took place over years allowing both organizations and individuals to adapt steadily. Today, this is not the case.

Today’s technological innovations are not only having a more significant impact on the economy but are also disrupting markets at an accelerating rate. This characteristic of the fourth industrial revolution is creating the additional challenge of businesses needing to adapt in a short time period and the added challenge of those in the job market need to train into valued skills quickly in this new AI-driven economy.

To prepare for this economic shift, research suggests that consulting services and working with dedicated organizations, such as mobile app development firms will grow to act as a major component of the economic foundation supporting this shift. The reason consulting seems to be an emerging trend is due to the flexibility of this role. As organizations quickly evolve, consultants can fill the gaps in an agile way allowing the organization to meet market demand, and remain resilient in this unprecedented shift. Furthermore, individuals are going to be required to quickly train up on new skills required for tomorrow’s market. The traditional four-year degree and traditional nine-to-five may not keep up with the speed required of the new economy. Rather, this new economy may favor those who can train up quickly and offer their expertise in a flexible on-demand manner to meet the needs of tomorrow’s rapidly evolving and agile business.

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