Industry 4.0: Beyond a Name

There’s been a lot of writing on the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ or ‘Industry 4.0’. Nearly a year ago, I wrote about how this technological shift is ‘changing the world of work’.

This new article debates whether this is all hyperbole or what it really means for business. The article argues that for businesses to truly leverage on the fourth industrial revolution, the “devil is in the details” and the focus needs to be on the ‘mechanics’ of making it work, not just the big ideas at play…

The future is very promising and certainly there is value in Industry 4.0, but each company has to decide what it wants and find the most cost effective route to get there. In my experience a series of small incremental steps will be far more effective than trying to get to the destination in one leap.

World Economic Forum founder and Chairman Klaus Schwab has been one of the foremost champions of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ as a force for good if managed right. I’ve read his book (same title) where he reviews the biggest technological shifts taking place today and likely to take place in the future and discusses how it will shape business, society, culture, governance and humanity as a whole. Do try and get a copy, or read this well-written summary authored by him, here. Schwab has argued for a truly collaborative and multi-stakeholder approach to making Industry 4.0 work for good. In the book he argues,

[…] we must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments. There has never been a time of greater promise, or one of greater potential peril.[…] In the end, it all comes down to people and values. We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them. In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails.

Read ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond’


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