In course of time, the world has experienced three undeniably incredible industrial revolutions. The first industrial revolution started with the invention of the steam engine in the 18th century which led production to be mechanized for the very first time. In the second industrial revolution, the power of electricity was used for mass production. The third one that remarkably changed the world was based on digital electrical and electronic tools and information technology. And now we are moving through the earliest hour of the fourth industrial revolution, a phrase first introduced by Klaus Schwab- Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
The fourth industrial revolution is also known as Industry 4.0 or 4IR is an expanded form of the third one, a digital revolution. Artificial intelligence- the core component of 4IR has shown noteworthy progress in the recent decade and near-future modern technology is going to be enriched by robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing. Meaning, that fourth is going to make a fusion of technologies to blur the lines among the physical, biological, and digital innovations.
As a crucial part of the fourth industrial revolution, massive technological development is going to make a huge improvement in the overall quality of human life. We have already seen digitalization in nearly all the fields around. And now in this 4IR era, digital technology is going to merge with human life to a large extend. People would be able to utilize their time and their efforts more efficiently and productivity will rise globally. The cost of transportation, communication, and trade will fall, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective which is going to open a new horizon in economic growth.
On the other hand, the revolution could be the cause of greater inequality and also disrupt the labor markets. Because of the large extent of automation machines are going to displace the workers which is a serious threat to the labor market. A huge number of workers would possibly lose their job. In near future, not just capital rather talent will represent the critical factor of production. This concept will boost the job market to be a “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segment. Already most of the developed countries and even some under developing countries are showing interest in highly skilled workers rather than less educated and lower-skilled workers.
The impact on business
Like in all other spheres, the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution is significantly having a major impact on businesses. When it’s about business, A lot of industries are being introduced with automation and the newest technologies in the production and supply of their products and services. Production is getting easier, safer, time-saving and the quality of products is also enhancing because of automation and wide use of innovation-based digital technologies. Besides the revolution is making the global business platform more accessible.
People are experiencing entirely new ways of consuming goods and services. The online service system of the companies saving our hours and energy also. We are shopping online, ordering foods online, booking tickets online, and so on. Now we don’t even need to go to the market for groceries or other daily necessaries. All these are coming to our doorsteps because of technological development in the business field. Lately, many companies are using drones to get their product delivered to the consumers faster than ever and at the same time lowering their delivery cost. That is digital technology is turning the business fields more consumer-friendly and helping the companies both to meet their consumer expectation and to decrease their supply cost.
Overall there are four major effects that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has on business –
- On customer expectations
- On product enhancement
- On collaborative innovation
- And on organizational forms.
A new form of collaboration is required among customer Experience, data-based services. As the global business platforms are emerging, skills, cultural varieties, work environment, and organizational forms might have to be reconsidered.
Finally, the fourth industrial revolution is compelling the companies to embrace the combination of innovation-based technologies to sustain properly. To keep pace with this revolutionary age business leaders and senior executives need to be able to adapt to the changing environment, accordingly improving the way of business, and relentlessly and continuously innovate.
Written By ,
S M Salman
Department of Business Administration
Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University