What Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Like the first, second, and third Industrial Revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has presented a period of rapid transformation within the modern economy. However, unlike the first three Industrial Revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution features transformational industry advances that blur the lines between biology, humanity, and technology.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has brought about products, services, and engineering innovations that have resulted in the progression of the Internet of Things (IoT), genetic engineering, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), robotics, quantum computing, and more.
These technologies have impacted individuals and organizations at virtually every level, from transforming customer service departments with AI-powered telecommunication to simplifying everyday life with algorithmic recommendations on streaming platforms like Hulu or Netflix. Even the job market has felt the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as businesses begin to increase their investment in highly skilled labor while transitioning manual labor to robot workers.
While some economists argue that the current advancements are an extension of the Third Industrial Revolution, others agree that three factors indicate the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution:
- The total impact of newly developed systems
- The velocity of change
- The exponential scope of the technological advancements
The advances come with their fair share of criticism, though. Even Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, admits that no other time in history has presented “greater promise or potential peril” than the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
How Does the Fourth Industrial Revolution Impact Businesses?
Due to the vast disruptions that have come as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, businesses across every industry have had to evolve quickly to keep up with technological, scientific, and behavioral changes. While countless factors are driving the rapid evolution of the modern market, some of the most impactful elements include:
1. Artificial Intelligence-Powered Support
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a type of computer that “thinks” like a human. The advanced telecommunication technology uses processes such as machine learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and natural language understanding (NLU) to grasp speech patterns, analyze information, and make recommendations.
Companies have also begun to use Artificial Intelligence-powered chatbots to streamline customer service operations, reduce overhead, and provide immediate support for online shoppers. Thanks to the technology, customer service departments experience greater efficiency and automation as live agents prioritize support tickets that require human understanding, empathy, and personalized care.
2. Quantum Processing
Quantum processing technologies allow computers to process information faster and more securely than before, thanks to innovations in computational tech and the expansion of cloud-based storage. While these computers aren’t widely available yet, they will one day boost AI function and analyze complex information sets in record time, resulting in highly advanced, data-driven workplaces.
Biotechnology blends biology, cellular science, and biomolecular processing with technology, resulting in new materials, faster manufacturing systems, and clean-energy sources to fuel a faster, more efficient future.
4. Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) may seem interchangeable, but the reality-bending processes vary slightly. VR involves headsets that create simulated experiences, such as placing customers in a virtual store where they can shop and interact with salespeople. On the other hand, AR combines the physical and digital worlds, exemplified by apps that allow customers to see how a product would look in their home before purchasing.
While seemingly better suited to the gaming community than businesses, you can use VR and AR to enhance the customer experience, increase human connection in an otherwise disconnected retail environment, and provide “hands-on,” personalized customer service in remote settings.
5. The Internet of Things
Finally, the IoT has revolutionized the ways that companies interact with and track their clients. The advanced technology includes any type of item that connects to the Internet and can be identified by other devices, such as smartwatches, location tracking devices, and cars.
You can take advantage of the digital technology to learn more about your customers. At the same time, you can connect 24/7 with users. This constant connection enables your business to understand your consumers’ priorities, preferences, desires, and needs, and leverage the data to stand out through contextualized marketing, enhanced customer experiences, and personalized care.
Organizational Evolution During the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The second Industrial Revolution reinvented manufacturing, retail, and production through the introduction of electricity. Now, the Fourth Industrial Revolution threatens to create even more changes in business, science, robotics, information technology, and other industries.
Further, experts believe that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will continue to impact the job market and consumer behavior, resulting in a vastly different approach to development, production, marketing, and sales.
Your company can use the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s advances in information technology to gain an edge in a competitive economy. That said, you’ll need to tap into new trends and prepare to evolve quickly to keep up with the rapid changes.