It’s the Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, biotechnology, The Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing and autonomous vehicles. These technologies blur the lines between human and machine and carry with them a promise of unprecedented connectivity.
What can we expect?
- An increase in disruptors
No matter how old and established your industry, the digital world brings with it the threat of disruption. Technology-enabled platforms, especially those which are mobile-enabled, are everywhere. That has seen a change in how we consume goods and services, and the old barriers to providing those things have begun to fall away.
The digital world also means that the cost of trialling a new idea is lower than it used to be. Not every radical new business concept will succeed, but more of them will try, raising the stakes for the traditional models.
- A hollowing-out of middle-tier jobs
With automation replacing jobs that have traditionally been done by people, the possibility of job losses looms large. One estimate has the percentage of jobs at risk from automation as high as 47%.
Production is already changing, with some factories producing twice as many products per employee as they did a decade ago, and that trend is likely to continue. The jobs that do remain will be specialist: the logistics experts, engineers, robotics mechanics and designers who are needed to ensure that an automated workforce runs smoothly.
The risk is that as low skilled jobs disappear, income inequality will increase. While it may be a valid fear, it is also true that the previous revolutions haven’t necessarily borne this out.
- An increase in customer expectations
Customers are marketed to in increasingly targeted ways. Big data means that marketers have a wealth of information on which to draw and can target customers before they’re even aware they might need a product or service. Customers are growing used to this, so much so that if the ad in their social media feed doesn’t align with their interests, they’re mildly baffled.
At the same time, physical products can be enhanced with digital capabilities, and new technologies mean new products all the time. All of this means that customer expectations are sky high, and companies need to be able to keep up.
- A return to local manufacture
Ironically, the same trends that will see a dip in manufacturing jobs may see them return to local shores. At the moment, most large companies manufacture their products overseas in countries where low wages allow them to reduce overheads. But as labour is increasingly supplanted by robots, the few human workers represent a far smaller percentage of the company’s costs, making it less important to cut costs.
In addition, shifting customer expectations and sophisticated products may make it more important that the designers, manufacturers and sellers of the products are in the same area.
What can we do to prepare?
It’s more important than ever that business leaders prepare for the inevitable change. That means expanding their thinking away from reliance on tradition and habit, and towards innovation. Continuous learning and upskilling will be paramount, as leaders transform their strategic planning, operations and people management to align with the foreseeable changes the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring.
At the Australian Institute of Business (AIB), a focus on industry-aligned, progressive education is helping leaders and future leaders do just that. In addition to relevant course content that is continuously being updated to reflect issues, trends and future predictions, AIB’s Industry Partnerships connect students directly to the source. Influential business leaders and experts from transformational companies such as LinkedIn, Audi and PwC share their valuable insights on the landscape of the business environment today and what their companies are doing to prepare for the future. This practical linkage is critical as it helps to bring business theory to life for students.
AIB is proud to offer The Agile MBA™, Australia’s largest and most popular MBA. It’s a fully accredited Master of Business Administration (MBA) qualification in Australia and recognised internationally. It includes industry insights, providing students with the practical skills and support they need to achieve their career goals. Specifically designed for busy working adults, The Agile MBA™ is delivered 100% online with interactive, bite-sized content.
Gain a unique and practical understanding of how business theories and principles are applied directly to the workplace, hear firsthand about challenges and be better prepared for the future of work.
Click here to find out more about AIB and The Agile MBA™.
We value local independent journalism. We hope you do too.
InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.