The First Industrial Revolution was driven by water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second Industrial Revolution used electric power to create mass production. The Third Industrial Revolution used electronics, digitisation and information technology to automate production. We are now in the beginning stages of the 4th Industrial Revolution which is building on the third by bringing together digital, physical and biological systems. Technologies such as analytics and artificial intelligence are blurring the lines between our physical and digital world
We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. These inevitable changes are disrupting almost every industry in every country, transforming entire systems of production, management, and governance. The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.
10 technologies that will lead the 4th industrial revolution
Interfaces, formats, sensors and apps will evolve as mobile computing devices dominate internet connectivity. By 2025, mobile connectivity could be accessed by an additional 4.3 billion people.
Machine learning and user interfaces such as speech and gesture recognition technology will advance to increase productivity or eliminate some knowledge work altogether.
Virtual and augmented reality
The virtual and augmented reality industry will become an $80 billion market by 2025 – it’s around $7 billion right now. Major upgrades will come to technology infrastructure and an ecosystem of apps will form for consumers and enterprises alike.
One of the biggest buzzwords of the last decade will continue to impact the next. Nearly all IT services and web apps could be delivered through the cloud with more enterprises using the public cloud as cyber security improves.
Internet of Things
More than 9 billion devices are currently connected to the internet – that number is estimated to grow between 50 billion to nearly 1 trillion in the next decade. Organizations will face monitoring and securing products, systems, devices and even people.
Advances in artificial intelligence, machine vision, sensors, motors, hydraulics and materials will change the way products and services are delivered. A surge in tech talent for building, operating and maintaining advanced robots will occur.
A recent survey of security professionals revealed that 72 percent of companies are planning to drop traditional passwords by 2025. This will give rise to new authorization services for face, voice, eye, hand and signature identification.
3D printing could enable unprecedented levels of mass customization and dramatically reduce the cost of supply chains generating an estimated economic impact of $230 to $550 billion annually by 2025.
Genetic engineering technology will grow with faster computer processing speeds. DNA sequencing technologies and advanced analytics will improve agricultural production, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and extend human life expectancy.
Blockchain is best known in the context of virtual currency Bitcoin, but a recent report showed 64 different use cases of blockchain across 200 companies. Streamlined, secure contracting and transacting will drive commercial use.
What’s the potential peril of the 4th Industrial Revolution?
It’s impossible to know precisely how the fourth industrial revolution will play out, but it’s possible to already to see areas of concern. The Fourth Industrial Revolution could create a job market that is segregated into “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segments. Typically, first-adopters of technology are the ones with the financial means to secure it, and that technology can catapult their continued success increasing the economic gaps. Some jobs will become obsolete and new jobs will be created for those who have adopted the required knowledge. The demand for highly skilled workers will increase while the demand for workers with less education and lower skills will decrease. The result will be a job market with a strong demand at the high and low ends, but a hollowing out of the middle
With technologies growing at such an exponential rate, organisations could either be unable or unwilling to adapt to these new technologies and that governments could fail to employ or regulate these technologies properly.
Advances in genetic engineering suggest that radical human augmentation could be available to those able to afford it within a generation, with the risk that we exacerbate current levels, and create new areas, of inequality, distrust and conflict. Neither technology, however, nor the disruption that comes with it is an exogenous force over which humans have no control.
How best to prepare for the 4th Industrial Revolution?
We all must be involved and be proactive in shaping this technology and disruption. This requires global cooperation and a shared view of how technology is reshaping our economic, social, cultural and individual lives. We must understand the ethics behind these new technologies and be proactive in setting guidelines, rules and laws to regulate and govern these properly.
Companies should invest in their technical infrastructure and data analysing capabilities. All businesses must be making a move to be smart, connected organizations or they will soon fall behind the competition. The key step is to be aware that this revolution coming, and it may arrive quicker than we think. Organizations should look to invest in their data analysis capabilities and technical infrastructure now to be fully prepared.
As professionals, we need to embrace change and realize that what our jobs are today might be dramatically different in the not too distant future. Our education and training systems need to adapt to better prepare people for the flexibility and critical thinking skills they will need in the future workplace.