Explaining the Industrial Revolution 4.0 & Impact on the Business Landscape
In the past decade, we have seen great changes to the way we live, communicate and work. From self-driving cars to the privatization of aerospace technologies, every facet of our lives has been touched and enhanced by the next industrial revolution. We can already see fast-changing business models meant to capitalize on digital trends. Once exclusive to the realm of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) is well on its way to refine automation further, perhaps even taking over monotonous jobs from human workers! How would you and your business stay relevant in this ever-shifting economy?
A Vision of the Future Working Environment
With the wide adoption of high-speed mobile internet, AI-based automation, big data analytics, and cloud computing comes the possibility of cyber-physical systems. Currently, there are two distinct systems:The Internet of Things (IoT): As more smart devices becomes availableThe Internet of Systems:The 4th Industrial Revolution is largely driven by four specific technological developments: high-speed mobile Internet, AI and automation, the use of big data analytics, and cloud technology. Of these four technologies, AI and automation are expected to have the most significant impact on employment figures within the global workforce.A recent study released by McKinsey Global Institute reports that roughly one-fifth of the global workforce will be impacted by the adoption of AI and automation, with the most significant impact in developed nations like the UK, German and US. By 2022, 50% of companies believe that automation will decrease their numbers of full-time staff and by 2030, robots will replace 800 million workers across the world.While these figures may sound depressing, it may also simply represent a change within the workforce and displaced employees could, with the right skills, take on more beneficial roles. The World Economic Forum reports that 38% of businesses believe AI and automation technology will allow employees to carry-out new productivity-enhancing jobs while over 25% of companies think automation will result in the emergence of new roles.
3 KEY ADVANTAGES OF THE HUMAN TOUCH
Well, there are still things where humans can still outperform advancing technology. To quote loosely from Graham Brown Martin’s article; here are 3 broad areas you can focus on to nurture your business or education in preparation for the new Industrial Revolution.CREATIVITY, this is a segment in your business that would not easily be replaced. AI still has a long way to go before achieving any form of self-innovating sentience. Creative writing, graphic designs, compelling videography, would still be something that requires a human touch.SOCIAL INTERACTION, humans still have the advantage of emotional intelligence and empathy. Interacting meaningfully with your target audience or customer base is still a key service that would remain long after advancements in technology have automated other aspects of your business.PHYSICAL DEXTERITY, as a biological being, our inspiring ability to hike mountains, dance, compete in football, swim, is still not going to be surpassed by robotics anytime soon. With just two opposing thumbs, we can perform amazing things with the apps on our smartphones. Through the assistance of technology, we just do what we do better!
“Remembering things? A computer can do that better than you.Calculate faster? A computer can do that much faster than you.I would rather spend more time educating the new generation with singing, and dancing, and painting. These are the things that touch your heart.These are the things that make you human.”Jack Ma (WAIC Shanghai 2019)
CAPITALIZE ON IR 4.0
When planning your long term business goals and assigning manpower, remember that the three core human advantages of Creativity, Social Interaction, and Physical Dexterity are not easily replaced by technology in the near future. Yes, computers can process data incrementally faster. AI can automate monotonous processes way more efficiently. But human critical thinking, emotional intelligence, negotiation, and cognitive flexibility are still powering the core of your business.
“Humanity is a biological bootloader for digital super intelligence…”Elon Musk (WAIC Shanghai 2019)For those who don’t know what a boot loader is, it’s the most basic and tiny piece of code without which a computer cannot start. As for now, this statement made by Elon Musk is still very true. Your business requires human talents in areas that would develop, engineer, and craft the digital arsenal you need for success in the 4th industrial revolution. So what other changes can your business make to be competitive in this new world? Hopefully, instead of working harder, you are willing to work smarter.
“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”.Alvin Toffler (Future Shock; published 1970)Some would argue that there is no point fixing what isn’t broken. But in order to remain on the cutting edge, your business requires innovation and cognitive flexibility. Your willingness to adopt a positive digital presence is essential to staying profitable! There are so many key areas in which you can secure your online awareness. Be it a truly memorable online ad, automated customer response, e-commerce set-up or a slick webpage with awe-inspiring UI/UX design, you need to first make the choice to adopt these tools that are readily available to you.Thankfully, our Malaysian government has long prepared us for the eventuality that cyber systems will be heavily integrated into businesses. With the formation of the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) as far back as 1996; the vision of implementing the MSC initiative has been at the forefront of digital transformation. Today, MDEC is an agency operating under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM). Their prime role is to firmly establish Malaysia as the heart of digital in ASEAN, ensuring that the digital economy will drive shared prosperity for all Malaysian citizens.
MDEC currently offers many interesting financial support packages and grants to entice local SMEs, entrepreneurs, and corporations to adopt digitalization. Among the most attractive we have seen is the SMART Automation Grant (SAG). Being a part of the Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara (PENJANA) stimulus, this grant offers successful applicants up to 50% OF TOTAL PROJECT COSTS spent on digitizing your SME and mid-tier company!!!If that doesn’t deserve the three exclamation points and caps lock, we don’t know what else would. You can read more about MDEC’s digital economy initiative HERE. During these post-Covid-19 times where social distancing is constantly advised as the new norm, many companies have relied on their digital platform to sustain business and traffic. E-Commerce is back on the rise, and we as humans have collectively advanced into the digital decade of 2020. Before we end, allow this humble blog writer to leave you with the legend of John Henry “Irons”.John Henry was said to be a “steel-driving man” whose job was to hammer a steel drill into rock to make holes for explosives which would eventually clear the way to pave railroad tunnels. As the times would have it, his job, along with others in his profession, would be replaced by a mechanical steam-powered drill. Being a man who prides himself on his work, he hated the idea that new technology, the engine, would steal the work from hardworking men such as he. When the agent for the steam drill company came, John Henry stood up and challenged the factory to a contest between man and machine; to see which would hammer the steel into rock faster and more efficiently.
As legend would have it, for two days and two nights, John Henry would work furiously to match and eventually exceed the speed of the steam-powered drill engine. Upon hammering the final steel drill into rock, John Henry raised his head in triumph over the machine and then collapsed dead from over-exertion and heart failure. He had won. Although the story of John Henry is mired in folklore and legend, we should take heart that embracing that new does not mean taking away our respect for heritage, history, or identity. It does not take our heart, nor reduce the qualities that make us uniquely human. John Henry would be forever remembered as a hero of the people.So the final takeaway from this. Your business, or company, or brand, already has a unique identity. Digitizing your processes or marketing needs would not taint that heritage or DNA. Let us usher in the new Industrial Revolution together with a positive mind and shared vision for a technologically fluent Malaysia. LEVERAGE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION WITH US TODAY!