IoT propelling Fourth Industrial RevoluitionBy Jim Kissane

Today we find ourselves in the throes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Some of us look at it with wonder and awe, others are still trying to figure out how to make it through the Third Industrial Revolution, and some feel it doesn’t affect them.

Like it or not, we’re all affected, and in countless ways previously unimaginable.

Communications technology has defined each previous Industrial Revolution.

Traditional mail was the enabler for the first one, where steam power drove the economy. The telegraph was the technology enabler for the second one, as electric power transformed global economies. The Third Industrial Revolution, which many organizations are still trying to assimilate, is the automation of processes, and we all see how this has been shaped by the Internet communications medium.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is now unfolding in front of us, as the IoT (Internet of Things) heralds smart, connected devices. Many are unsure what to call the underlying communications foundation technology.

At the 2016 World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland a key question for planners was, “Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution drive global economies or eliminate millions of jobs?”

An Englishman named William Lee once invented a machine that would replace the hand knitting of textiles, and thus launch that industry into a new age of efficiency. He traveled to London to demonstrate the machine, hoping to obtain a royal patent. Queen Elizabeth I refused the request. She feared the machine would “assuredly bring her poor subjects to ruin by depriving them of employment.” The year was 1589. The First Industrial Revolution lay nearly 200 years in the future, but Good Queen Bess knew a risk that could cause unrest among the population when she saw one.

The question for us today looms, “How will we address the challenges and opportunities of the IoT?”

Do you honestly believe you’ll be surviving off the customer base you have had historically? Businesses of all types will have to stay on their toes to seize the opportunities that emerge. Thought leaders agree global competition will become even fiercer. It is becoming easier to connect appliances, machines, things, complete factories, and other industrial environments and processes to the Internet. New companies will emerge, and traditional companies like Kodak, which clung too long to its legacy, will diminish or disappear.

Your awareness of these foundational changes in the market will redefine the business you’re in, and the customers you serve.

Or you could just “stay the course” and hope for the best.

Kissane is a retired construction industry veteran, having served the design/construction industry for more than three decades.