This piece is a preamble to a series of articles where we look at the pressures driving the 4th Industrial revolution, the current effects and impact of the shift and re-imagine what the future looks like for different industry verticals such as financials services, telecommunications etc.
Before we get into the meat of this paper I think is prudent that I define and contextualize what the 4th Industrial Revolution is all about. If you look in history there are key moments driven by technological advances that redefined the times. To put some context to this; the First Industrial Revolution changed Europe from an agrarian economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacturing. The Second Industrial Revolution harnessed electric power, standardization to create mass production. The Third Revolution (which we are currently in) is built on advances in electronics, internet and information technology to digitalize and automate production. We are in a period where the foundations to economically, politically and culturally usher the 4th Industrial Revolution are being firmly laid.
The shift to the 4th industrial revolution is being driven by deep-seated questions around sustainability and technological innovations centered on the internet that have learning capabilities, that are intelligent (AI), predictive (using processed data algorithms) and on-demand (real-time). I anticipate this shift will have a far greater impact and implications of the transformational proportions of the First, Second and Third Industrial Revolutions. “Disruption” is the buzz word being used to describe the drastic changes we are witnessing in the current economic, social and political order. So what as business can you expect?
In a nutshell the 4th Industrial Revolution will be the convergence of the physical world with the cloud, internet and virtual spaces. As a result, businesses should be in overdrive digitizing and automating their operations including mapping their future strategic initiatives to capacitate them with the infrastructure, ecosystems, skills, culture and mindsets to embrace this convergence. Big data generated and processed from digitization and automation will be harnessed by machine learning technologies to develop the datasets that constitute functions in part or your whole business model. These evolved data driven business models will be operationalized by Artificial Intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and other emerging technologies to engage with and respond to the relevant stakeholders in your businesses value-chain.
What are the implications of this?
Firstly if you are a B2B an ever increasing amount your business interactions with stakeholders will be online, people-less, integrated, automated and optimized where the AI applications between your business and that of your stakeholders will be sharing relevant data for input, processing and service delivery. Secondly there will be increased backward and forward integration of businesses in their value chains driven by information sharing and the establishment of industry-wide datasets using AI and predictive analytics. The evolution of the information sharing approach will lead to and capacitate:
i. The formulation of value-chain wide risk mitigation and response policies that apply to stakeholders in the ecosystem and;
ii. Enhanced data driven collaboration and consolidations at operational and strategic levels.
These integrations along the value-chain will unlock intrinsic and extrinsic value that predictive analytics can use to come up reliable future shifting trends, behavioral, costs and profit patterns and projections. This value collectively shared will become the main source of a business’s competitive by empowering them (singularly and or as part of the value-chain) with information to anticipate, manage and influence their current and future destinies. I will even go on further to predict that this competitor advantage will be the source of raising capital and future innovative tradable financial instruments. Thirdly jobs and the labor market will evolve from the current setup to where a growing number of workers in a large business will be analysts, developers, IT Specialists, section/department Managers (with strong mathematical and analytical skills) and decision makers who will be responsible for driving, maintaining and tweaking the business model configuration as it pertains to the configuration of the strategic ecosystems their operating in. Finally businesses will continually derive brand recognition and utility through their digital persona in the digital ecosystems they establish and/ or are configured in, where they can push brand engagement through the dissemination of information and delivery of products and services to their clients.
This is not all in all conclusive and certainly I cannot pinpoint to a date and time this will be. This is based on my expert analysis of the economic, political, social and technological pressures and trends are having on businesses to change to remain viable and relevant in sustainable way. The far-reaching effects of the global COVID pandemic, across all industries have put untold pressures on business to plan for such occurrences. Business are relooking and repurposing their entire supply chains, operations, strategic alliances through integrations, sharing information and building in contingencies and failovers in their business models using technology.
I hope I have shed some light and basing on this you were conscientized on the stark gap and contrast between where your business is currently plotted on the digitalization journey that will prepare and usher your organization into 4th Industrial Revolution.
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