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Wunderman - Bienalto

Insight

The Change Imperative: How Industry 4.0 is transforming life as we know it

By Hurol Inan

Change is all around us right now. From the way we shop for essential items, to the way we manufacture those essential items, to the way we market them … there are digital forces at play that are causing exponential, transformational change across all industries.

It’s a scale of change that deserves its own name. Which is why we are starting to hear terms such as Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

What is causing this change? First, there are new possibilities due to advances in technology. Second, and perhaps more significantly, there’s a critical mass of unsatisfied and cynical employees, consumers and citizens out there. Except for the global professional elite and providers of the capital, everyone else is complaining.

Across the globe, the populus is vocal and well connected. More than 30% of the global population now uses social media platforms to connect, learn and share information; and this year’s US elections and Brexit are symbols of the change these people are demanding.

It’s clear that business and government need to do a better job in delivering value, serving customers, and looking after their well-being. Question is, how?

Fusion of technologies: cyber, physical and biological

The Fourth Industrial Revolution stands apart from its predecessors (mechanisation, mass production and computerised automated systems) because of the immense possibilities it presents.

Think about it. With billions of people connected by mobile devices, and enjoying unprecedented processing power, storage capacity and access to knowledge, things like AI, IoT, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, energy storage and bio-tech will grow exponentially.

Business and government should view all of these changes as advantages, rather than  disadvantages.

Automation, for example, will be a major change in coming years, with major consequences. Its transformational power is attracting a lot of attention due to its impact on the economy and workforce. According to the Future of Jobs study by the World Economic Forum, automation will be responsible for the loss of 5 million jobs by 2020 (with only 2.1 million jobs to be gained).

I see automation as a change agent for good, not bad. It creates possibilities by addressing productivity and scalability issues, freeing up the workforce to be more innovative and creative. Kevin Kelly, author of The Inevitable and editor of Wired.com, concurs—he says that everything that needs productivity will be automated, and that it’s not a bad thing.

So, what skills are we going to need in Industry 4.0?

Given the changes that are ahead of us, it’s not too hard to predict an increasing demand for creative, design and technology jobs. These jobs are essential to design and build the automated systems that industries will rely on. There will also be jobs for people who can operate these systems in control room environments.

Empathy and cooperation will be key skills for us all. David Deming, Associate Professor from Harvard University calls it re-learning pre-school skills—learning to share, adapt to a new environment, and speaking and playing with a stranger without judgement.

Sydney University is a pioneer in this area with their Design Computing Course. Their curriculum covers everything from art to deep-end technology. Since the students study the full spectrum, they not only have a choice of careers ahead of them, they are also fantastic collaborators.

The graduates emerging from the Design Computing course are in very high demand. They are sought after by employers across different industries, particularly those with their finger on the pulse of change. For them, it’s a great position to be in. With a bit of work, organisations can put themselves into the same position, too.

If you like the idea of embracing change and want to discuss the possibilities for your business, get in touch today.

Next up tomorrow: Part 2 of The Change Imperative: 5 tips for embracing the exponential change