The 4th Industrial Revolution: Profound Effects on People, Governments & Business

 In What You Need To Know, Smart Manufacturing

Industry 4.0 will change everything—are you ready? 

Industrial Revolution, woman wearing hard hat in industiral setting

As we continue to transition into the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, we know that it will have substantial effects on the world. Reshaping our technology and many aspects of human life and affecting nearly all sectors from healthcare, manufacturing, education to entertainment and tourism. 

Let’s take a brief look at Industry 4.0 and how some advancements in technology will affect people, governments, and businesses.

Industry 4.0 and people

Industry 4.0 will undoubtedly have a significant impact on people in many ways, whether you’re thinking about how it will affect aspects of our everyday lives like shopping or major events like natural disasters that harm people immensely.

Bernard Marr, in the article The Fourth Industrial Revolution Is Here— Are You Ready? Explores the promises and potential perils associated with the transition to Industry 4.0 and highlights that “Indeed, one of the greatest promises of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the potential to improve the quality of life for the world’s population and raise income levels.” 

Many of us in the western world already enjoy the convenience and benefits of the connected world, new products, and services, as Marr also suggests. That said, it’s important to note what Industry 4.0 can do for people outside of things associated with our everyday lives, like purchasing new products. 

In the article How the Fourth Industrial Revolution can help us prepare for the next natural disaster, Scott L David highlights how Industry 4.0 technology will even benefit us at managing active disasters and possibly even preventing disasters. “The technologies and systems of the Fourth Industrial Revolution offer very powerful assets for responding to natural disasters. With nearly 6 billion mobile phone users worldwide, connected individuals have proven to be one of the most effective and efficient ways of strengthening resilience when disaster strikes. Likewise, social media, drones, satellite imagery and predictive analytics have all been tremendously helpful for coordinating responses and accelerating the recovery of individuals and communities in the aftermath of recent natural disasters.”

Industry 4.0 and government 

Governments will be greatly affected by the Fourth Industrial Revolution as new technology will allow citizens to engage with their governments in ways currently impossible. Meanwhile, governments could also face socio-economic changes like a more segregated job market. 

Professor Schwab highlights that “As the physical, digital, and biological worlds continue to converge, new technologies and platforms will increasingly enable citizens to engage with governments, voice their opinions, coordinate their efforts, and even circumvent the supervision of public authorities. Simultaneously, governments will gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure. On the whole, however, governments will increasingly face pressure to change their current approach to public engagement and policymaking, as their central role of conducting policy diminishes owing to new sources of competition and the redistribution and decentralization of power that new technologies make possible.” 

Marr also notes that “World governments need to adequately plan for and regulate our new capabilities to ensure our security. There might be increased social tensions as a result of the socio-economic changes brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution that could create a job market that’s segregated into “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segments.

Industry 4.0 and business  

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will also affect businesses worldwide in all industries from changes in demand to customer expectations, product enhancement, organizational forms, culture, and talent will need to be reconsidered.   

Schwab notes in the article The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond that “Indeed, across all industries, there is clear evidence that the technologies that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution are having a major impact on businesses,” and later continues that “Major shifts on the demand side are also occurring, as growing transparency, consumer engagement, and new patterns of consumer behaviour (increasingly built upon access to mobile networks and data) force companies to adapt the way they design, market, and deliver products and services.”

Meanwhile, Schwab highlights that “On the whole, there are four main effects that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has on business—on customer expectations, on product enhancement, on collaborative innovation, and on organizational forms,” which would undoubtedly change the face of business as we know them now. 

He furthers that “Physical products and services, moreover, can now be enhanced with digital capabilities that increase their value. New technologies make assets more durable and resilient, while data and analytics are transforming how they are maintained. A world of customer experiences, data-based services, and asset performance through analytics, meanwhile, requires new forms of collaboration, particularly given the speed at which innovation and disruption are taking place. And the emergence of global platforms and other new business models, finally, means that talent, culture, and organizational forms will have to be rethought.” 

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