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The world is changing swiftly as uncertainty surrounding trade, economic growth, regulations and geopolitics looms. At the same time, the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), also known as Industry 4.0, is the unfolding age of digitalization—from the digitally connected products and services we consume, to advancements in smart cities and factories and increasingly common automation of tasks and services in our homes and at work, has finally come of age. And it’s pervading virtually every aspect of modern life. From consumers to manufacturers to cities, 4IR advancements are more accessible and less costly than just a few years ago. But 4IR is more than technology: as it gradually shapes how we live and work (and even play), it also ushers in a revolution of experience.
For businesses, the timing couldn’t be better. The share of CEOs expecting their revenue to grow over the next year is at its lowest level in a decade, according to PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey. Indeed, the building blocks of 4IR, can open opportunities for growth even during economic downturns through greater productivity and efficiencies.
To thrive, companies need to focus on their people as much as on their technology.
Adoption of the technologies that power 4IR has been on the rise for some time. About six in ten companies globally plan to make significant investments in both AI and IoT. While it’s easy to make them the stars of the show, it’s a mistake to do so. Essentially, they aren’t 4IR—they merely enable it.
Resilience will make the difference in surviving uncertain times. Companies increasingly expect that embracing 4IR will deliver results—and they’re right to do so. For those companies that have invested in digital initiatives, revenue growth and reduced costs are the top expected benefits. Returns on 4IR investment can also yield intangible forms of growth beyond the top and bottom lines, including improved workplace safety and overall employee experience.
This revolution runs on data. Generated on an unprecedented scale by an ever-increasing array of connected devices, data is the lifeblood of the modern economy. But it isn’t free. Customers’ willingness to entrust companies with sensitive information about their lives and businesses hinges on the quality of experience offered to them.
To thrive, companies need to focus on their people as much as on their technology. The way we work is changing rapidly, taking some tasks out of human hands through automation while spurring demand for new digital skill sets. In fact, that demand is so strong that hiring can hardly keep pace.