At the IPM Annual Convention and Exhibition 2016, we are gearing up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But what is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? And how do we respond? This blog will take a closer look.
According to the World Economic Forum, the 1st Industrial Revolution used steam and water to mechanise production. The 2nd used electric power to create mass production. In the 3rd, electronics and information technology automated production. And now, the 4th is building on the 3rd. One of the key characteristics of this revolution, which they say started in the middle of the last century, is the increasingly blurred line between physical, digital and biological spheres. And the distinction to note here is the velocity, scope and systems impact. Think about technological advancements such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things (IOT), self-drive vehicles, 3-D printing, nontechnology and digital fabrication technologies. We are pioneering what is described as a symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, the products we consume and the buildings we inhabit. For most of us, these are new and even fanciful frontiers. Keeping up to speed is task enough. Everything is being disrupted.
“The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical president.”
The World Economic Forum.
As with all revolutions, the opportunities for us to improve lives and raise global income levels present themselves. We hope that technological innovation will bring long-term gains in efficiency and production. Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and supply chains should become more effective, and with trade costs down new markets should open which drive economic growth. However, this is only part of the picture.
What will happen to the world of work as we know it?
The labour market
Automation is bound to have an impact, displacing workers, but it will also create new types of jobs. The thinking is that we are likely to see a larger spilt of the jobs market into low-skill low-pay and high-skill high-pay. Inequality is one of the key concerns with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“The largest beneficiaries of innovation tend to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital—the innovators, shareholders, and investors—which explains the rising gap in wealth between those dependent on capital versus labor. Technology is therefore one of the main reasons why incomes have stagnated, or even decreased, for a majority of the population in high-income countries: the demand for highly skilled workers has increased while the demand for workers with less education and lower skills has decreased.”
Impact on business
New technologies mean disruption of existing industry value chains. Who is doing the disruption? That would be the agile, innovative companies who are competing in new playing fields thanks to their comfort with digital platforms to research, develop, market, sell and distribute. They’re capitalising on new patterns of customer behaviour, connected, transparent and engaging. The four key impacts on business as described by the WEF are on:
- Customer expectations
- Product enhancement
- Collaborative innovation
- Organsational forms.
The fourth revolution is about innovations based on combinations of technologies. How are you coming to grips with this new reality and future, from a personal and business perspective? We need to challenge how we operate, and where innovation fits within that picture. What role will HR play?
Come and explore these concepts at Convention 2016. We have lined up a host of experts to change the way you approach the future.
“All of us are responsible for guiding the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
For the full programme, or to book, please click here: www.ipm.co.za/ipm-convention