A few decades ago, the basic use of hand tools and primary machines transformed into more powered types of machinery and factories as humanity learned the First Industrial Revolution. New innovations in steel, petroleum, and electricity production years later led to the introduction of telephones and airplanes during the Second Industrial Revolution. Eventually, the Third Industrial Revolution dubbed as “Digital Revolution” came into the picture and replaced mechanical and analog technologies with digital electronics.
Today, a fourth industrial revolution unfolds. The Fourth Industrial Revolution brings technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres across all sectors and usually involve the utilization of the Internet or connectivity solutions in the business process. Services like getting a ride, ordering pizza, booking a flight, shopping for books, and watching a film can now be done remotely.
At the recent 2019 Cebu Business Month, Eastern Communications, one of the country’s premier telecommunications companies, talked about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIRe), a technology-driven change that transforms businesses today. This builds on the digital revolution with cyber-physical systems providing new mechanisms and allowing technology to be embedded within societies and even the human body.
The FIRe is marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields namely Artificial Intelligence, Internet Of Things, Blockchain, Advanced Robotics, Cloud Technologies, Augmented Reality, and 3D Printing.
Artificial Intelligence is a program applied to machines to mimic human intelligence while Internet Of Things refers to the connectivity and association of electronic devices to transmit or process information. Blockchain, on the other hand, is a digital ledger of transactions that is shared by a network of computers to secure the authenticity of the transactions. A multi-disciplinary area of engineering and science, Advanced Robotics aims to replace humans in tedious and hazardous tasks such as bomb detection and de-activation. Cloud Technologies, meanwhile, is an on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage, available over the internet. Augmented Reality is an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information. Lastly, 3D Printing or additive manufacturing uses a printer to create three-dimensional objects from a digital file.
“All of these will drastically supersede any digital progress made in the past 60 years and create realities that we previously thought to be unthinkable. Such profound realities will disrupt and change the business model of each and every industry,” shared Eastern Communications Product and Innovation Head Edsel Paglinawan.
“Companies that instigated digital transformation are having a competitive advantage in their respective industries. The transformation from traditional to digital is now a requirement for every company. A business that fails to upgrade from traditional to digital has a high potential of being left out or going out of business,” he added.
Although businesses are transforming digitally, Paglinawan believes that consumers should be taken into consideration. Regardless of how advanced companies’ products and services are, if the system is not applicable to your target consumers or the method is harder for customers to adjust with, the transformation may not be beneficial to the business.
“The majority of the companies and IT managers today already grasped the technology side, but they unintentionally overlook the human side. Digital transformation is not just about the integration of the technology to the business operation or methods, but also about how people adapt and react to the changes it may have caused,” he said.
Paglinawan also mentioned that it is also important to focus on the employees. More than gaining productivity through automation, manufacturers should consider a more skills-based model in which technology is judged according to its ability to augment the capabilities of workers.
The fourth industrial revolution has its own advantages and disadvantages. It resulted in some companies’ booming success, depending on how businesses handled and deployed the digitization. And while technologies are somehow taking the lead in this generation, it also takes a human touch to suitably and beneficially bring digital, physical, and biological systems together.