The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4ir) is a paradigm shift that reshapes the way economic, political and social value is created and exchanged. It’s characterized by technologies that blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds. These technologies are most powerful when they reinforce one another.
4ir is transforming the economy and changing the nature of work and learning. The impact will be felt across industries, sectors and economies around the world. This is a period of significant disruption that offers opportunities for greater productivity, sustainability, social inclusion and prosperity.
As a result, governments need to adapt their policies to the challenges and opportunities of 4ir. Taking the right steps will help ensure that societies benefit from its potential to create jobs and improve human lives.
Developing lifelong learning – Having an adaptable mindset and the ability to learn new skills is crucial. In the future, people will need to continually reskill to stay relevant and competitive in a fast-changing world of work. This should be a priority at school and tertiary level as well as in the workplace.
Building a robust innovation culture – Organizations need to build a culture of innovation that enables creativity and experimentation. This will help to drive business growth and create new sources of revenue. This requires leadership support, incentives and a culture of openness that encourages risk-taking.
The ability to scale – Manufacturing companies must be able to scale up or down depending on market demands. This will require the capacity to invest in new technology and the capability to implement and manage systems. It will also require the ability to integrate systems across departments and across borders.
Responsible production – Many people think that productive operations are hard to square with environmental responsibility, but the lighthouses identified by the Global Lighthouse Network show how it’s possible to achieve both. By leveraging data analytics and IoT connectivity, Schneider Electric was able to lower energy use by 26 percent and CO2 emissions by 30 percent in its smart factory.
Maintaining social cohesion – In times of rapid change, government must maintain social cohesion and avoid social instability. This will involve promoting economic growth, ensuring equitable access to education and healthcare and maintaining a strong defence sector.
Open for business – Governments must be ready to embrace the changes that will come with 4ir and promote an environment that is attractive to businesses. This can be done by offering low taxes, light regulation, infrastructure investment and openness to trade.
The tools of 4ir will be used to transform our world in profound ways. While dire predictions of mass unemployment are rife, they must be balanced with the potential to improve the lives of millions of people by boosting productivity, reducing environmental impact and creating more fulfilling work.