The fourth industrial revolution popularly called Industry 4.0 is characterized by the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilization of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, advanced wireless technologies, the Internet of Things, among others. This era is simply emphasizing the use of digital technologies and can be described as the birth of cyber-physical systems that involves an entirely new capability for people and machines. These capabilities are reliant on the technologies and infrastructure of the Third Industrial Revolution, whereby the Fourth Industrial Revolution represents new ways in which technology becomes ingrained within societies and even our human bodies. It encompasses all the further automation and computerization that companies can deploy to improve their production cycles and connect all the different works aspects into a unified digital ecosystem.
This 4th Industrial Revolution is all about new solutions and new technologies that can actually provide new, better, and faster solutions as it is changing how we live, work, communicate and is also reshaping government, education, healthcare, business and literally almost every aspect of life. However, we must be aware that these technologies can also have negative results if we don’t think well before using it.
The significant difference between this industrial revolution and every previous is that this Revolution is evolving at a more exponential pace rather than a slow rate and we can see this revolution disrupting every industry in every country in the world.
There are four design principles identified as integral to industry 4.0;
- Technical assistance – this is the technological facility of systems to assist humans in decision-making and problem-solving, and the ability to help humans with difficult or unsafe tasks
- Interconnection – this is the ability of machines, devices, sensors, and people to connect and communicate with each other via the Internet of things, or the internet of people.
- Information transparency – this is the transparency afforded by Industry 4.0 technology that provides operators with comprehensive information to inform decisions. Inter-connectivity allows operators to collect immense amounts of data and information from all points in the manufacturing process, identify key areas that can benefit from the improvement to increase functionality.
- Decentralized decisions – is the ability of cyber-physical systems to make decisions on their own and to perform their tasks as autonomously as possible. Except in cases of exceptions, interference, or conflicting goals, are tasks delegated to a higher level.
To thrive as a business in this era, there is a need to embrace the connected ecosystem that this revolution is building as it has many benefits and taking advantage of this is going to generate a competitive edge for you. You need to understand that at the crux of this Industry 4.0 is people and not just technology as this is an era where the mindset is just as important as skills. Having the right mindset will enable people to adopt, collaborate and bridge cross-competencies in specialized areas like machine-learning, 3D printing, robotics, nanotechnology, quantum science and artificial intelligence. By putting people first and empowering them, we will be able to shape a future that works for all.
From this we can see that the ability of your business to thrive in this era is through the empowerment of your people and with the rise of machines, emotional intelligence becomes one of the most relevant skills needed in this era. Some other mandatory skills include;
People management; this is crucial because in the world of robots and hard mathematical skills people matter a great deal. No machine can replace a perfect worker, or manage a team, or create leaders, so leadership and managerial skills are mandatory, and the new times require people skills.
Coordinating with others; this refers to effective communication and team collaboration and is a skill that will be high in demand in any industry in this era.
Judgment and decision making; this skill is tightly linked with one’s ability to condense a vast amount of data, using data analytics and interpret data in a way that will offer the right decision. The ability to make the right decision will lead to a solution that will be useful in this digital era.
Negotiation; this skill can help a person deal with everyday situations, getting a better price, or simply coming to a win-win business situation. It will be highly needed in affected industries of this digital ecosystem.
Cognitive Flexibility; is the ability to transit between different personal thoughts to meet various challenges at hand. It emphasizes the brain’s ability to transition from thinking about one concept to another.
Critical thinking; critical thinking is more oriented to our ability to turn data into useful interpretations that can be interconnected in various fields.
Creativity; this is the ability to shape random thoughts, and situations into something and this skill will always pay off now and in the future.
Asides from empowering your people with these skills so as to thrive it is also necessary to clearly estimate the ROI on the different digital solutions can generate for your business before embracing any technological intervention.
In conclusion, the industry 4.0 era in its dehumanized form may indeed have the potential to robotize humanity and even deprive us of our heart and soul, however as a complement to the best parts of human nature, creativity, empathy, critical thinking, it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on our shared sense of destiny. Thus it is imperative for us all, especially as a business, to make sure the latter prevails as we move on in this era.