Are we in the middle, in the end, or at the dawn of Fourth Industrial Revolution? Opinions differ on this subject. Industry 4.0, the term that many people use as a synonym of the global transformation of technology and production, has been coined a quite a while ago—in 2011, at the Hannover Messe in Germany. Since that time, a whole eternity has passed according to the present-day standards. Likely, you have already felt the breath of the new world being shaped by the next Industrial Revolution.
What does it mean for you?
The first things coming into mind are smart homes and smart factories. Here physical and virtual systems are so intertwined and work together so smoothly that you can but marvel! New operational models appear, which no longer require human intervention.
Decoding of the genome, quantum computing, and new renewable sources of energy—they are also part of Industry 4.0. We can witness the convergence of a whole range of technologies, immediate penetration of one technology into another, and then, their instant spread.
This is what it makes digital transformation unique. It should be regarded as the only possible scenario of development of business as well as of society. The Fourth Industrial Revolution differs from the three preceding ones not only by the speed of its propagation but also by increasing the digital divide between countries: for about 4 billion people, even the Third Industrial Revolution has not come yet, as they still have no access to the Internet. And 1.5 billion people even have no electricity.
No need to borrow trouble
Do you know what fears people have when they are thinking about their future with Industry 4.0? Do you share these fears as a professional and as a leader, or not?
- The first fear is to lose your job due to the labor market changes.
One of the main fears is that qualifications and competencies accumulated during your lifetime will cease to be useful to society, even if this is a premium-class experience. Accountants, lawyers, salespersons and other highly demanded professionals, including top managers, might become redundant, replaced by software and hardware.
Revolutionary technological changes do not always result in the appearance of numerous jobs. That was the case a hundred years ago, but this time, newly built factories do not need humans.
Nevertheless, at the same time, new opportunities are emerging for retraining, relocation, getting additional education, starting a new business, etc. Millions of people will start doing something absolutely new for them. It is too early even to envisage what they will do exactly. However, a person who wants to earn money will always find a job.
- That the society will become even more stratified
Money and power, on the one side, are more and more concentrated in smaller groups of people. Small companies implement projects that used to occupy entire countries. But the black cloud has a silver lining: it has become easier to make money than ever before. It can be some random people of different age from various places. For instance, a seven-year-old boy Ryan has earned 22 million dollars in a year by being featured in video clips of his parents showing him playing with new toys. It is easy to find a lot of similar examples in the news of mass media. The stratification of society increases, but there are more real chances to change your life.
Will the world become a better place?
Industry 4.0 engenders astonishing combinations of innovations from different spheres, from the worlds of medicine, biology, physics, and digital realities. They start to work together, creating business models nobody heard of before and changing radically everything we are accustomed to. Work, communications, production and consumption, logistics, lifestyle, attitude to learning, and leisure are changing.
However, we don't know what the Fourth Industrial Revolution will lead to, as its scale cannot even be compared with the three previous industrial revolutions. It develops not linearly but exponentially, and it cannot be compared to them due to its unpredictability. Fabulous possibilities and dangers provoke at the same time thrill from anticipation and awe (especially after viewing one more dystopian blockbuster).
Still, let's be optimistic. If all over the world state authorities and companies of different scale have firm intentions to use the disruption opportunities to create and not to destroy, and if you have such a strong ally and digitalization advisor as Softline at your side, you will have no reasons to be afraid of the future.