You’ve heard the term, but what exactly is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

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You’ve heard the term, but what exactly is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?


A quick history lesson

The First Industrial Revolution (in the eighteenth century) brought with it the invention of the steam train (and many an ox and donkey breathed a sigh of relief), the second (before WW1) was defined by the discovery of electricity and mass production, and the third, which only began fairly recently (the 1980s), became known as the digital age, with the advancement of technology, such as the personal computer and the Internet. (Can you even imagine life before the Internet?)

So, what is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The phrase Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) was first used in 2016 at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. A continuation of the third, 4IR is the merging of physical, digital, biological, emergent and disruptive technologies that are changing our lives as we know it. Think Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, the Internet of Things - an object (man-made or natural) that has the ability to transfer data – all of these technologies are blurring the lines between what is natural and what is not.

The prospect of robots running the world is an exciting, yet terrifying prospect. But rather than shying away, we should be embracing it, or fear being left behind.

According to Cobus Oosthuizen, Dean of the Business School at Milpark Education, “instead of a reactive approach, we should be proactive in seeking ways to harness the advancements in technology and shaping 4IR in ways that will benefit all”.

Will this era result in a loss of jobs?

Certainly, many jobs that were once held by humans will make way for machines, but as can be seen in all previous industrial revolutions, new jobs are always created when new technologies and industries are born.

So what does this mean for you?

It means you will have to be more adaptive and receptive to change. You will need to be willing to learn new skills, ones that can’t be replaced by robots, such as resilient leadership, problem-solving and the art of negotiation.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is ground-breaking, disruptive and full of opportunity. Make sure you are willing and present to join the ride.

15 Jun 2018