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Our Fourth Industrial Revolution Has No Precedent, Part II

The impact on business


There was a somber mood among industrial and political leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week. Those in attendance were worried about the sharp drop in oil prices, China’s economic slowdown, the volatile, chaotic Middle East, the growing political instability in Europe and the coming US elections. All of these developments, including an eroding Developed World middle class, are connected to the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Will ‘the center’ hold in the next few years or will things unravel? That depends on whether there’s another global recession, whether the Trans Pacific Partnership is approved, whether moderate European and American leaders are voted out of office, etc.

On the brighter side, the percentage of the global population living in absolute poverty has decreased dramatically in recent years. Along with that, Fourth Industrial Revolution tech breakthroughs continue to offer hope of an improving quality of life for billions.


The Impact On Business

  • Global CEOs and senior executives have been pushed off balance by hard-to-predict business disruptions that are emerging with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This has been especially the case for established corporations, increasingly vulnerable to new, more agile and innovative competitors.
  • These new, innovative early adopters are providing faster delivery, better quality and lower prices for products and services.
  • This new dynamic is making it easier for talented, innovative entrepreneurs to create wealth. Their new generation platform-based businesses have expanded into a wide range of specialized services ranging from TaskRabbit-delivered chores, to travel/transportation, to shopping.
  • On the demand side, businesses have had to recalibrate their marketing platforms to take greater advantage of mobile device dominance.
  • Most businesses must now also meet the challenges related to the rapid integration of people, resources and big data in the new ‘sharing economy.’ This has resulted in an accelerated transformation away from hierarchical to flatter, more streamlined and collaborative organizational structures.
  • New digital technologies are creating more dependable, resilient products and services. At the same time, big data and analytics are transforming both delivery and maintenance.

In my next and final installment of this Insights article, I’ll discuss how these changes will affect government and everyday life.

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