“The fourth industrial revolution or IR 4.0 as it is commonly known, represents the combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the Internet of Systems. In short, it is the idea of Smart factories in which machines are augmented with Web connectivity and connected to a system that can visualise the entire production chain and make decisions on its own. In this fourth revolution, a range of new technologies will evolve that combine the physical, digital, and biological worlds. These new technologies will impact all disciplines, economies, and industries, and even challenge our ideas about what it means to be human.” – Professor Sattar Bawany 1
DISRUPTION has and will continue to fundamentally change the way we live and work. Today’s society including businesses, government, and individuals are responding to shifts that would have seemed unimaginable or unthinkable even a few years ago. Today we are in the era of The Fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as Industry 4.0) where the business environment is characterised as increasingly volatile, uncertain, ambiguous and complex (collectively known as ‘VUCA’). 3
In Industry 4.0, artificial intelligence (AI), the IoT, and robotics are reinventing the workforce and will continue to impact the workplace for many years to come. Drones and driverless cars are transforming supply chains and logistics resulting in enhancing the quality of life. The way we live and work is about to go through a profound change. For some countries, this has already been happening for quite some time now. The rapid advances in many technologies are expected to continue disrupting many of the industries in the various economies, and the impact will be felt across the globe.
Implications of Industry 4.0
Digitisation which is the cornerstone of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as Industry 4.0) has an impact on all organisations across various sectors or industries. In each case, the impact is a different one which makes it essential for companies to have a good understanding and view of what they face and how digitisation will affect their company: which opportunities can be seized and which threats have to be faced? 1
The impact of digital disruption has to be managed alongside the more general VUCA operating conditions of recent years 3. An ability to calculate and manage/mitigate risk will therefore be another key requirement of leaders seeking to propel their organisations into the digital age. Navigating a course through these difficult conditions may also force leaders to look at their individual leadership style and decide whether it needs to be adjusted.
Professor Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF), has published a book entitled The Fourth Industrial Revolution in which he describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterised mainly by advances in technology 4.
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