Age of Extreme Automation and Connectivity Produces Fireworks in Business and Politics

We are on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution characterized by extreme connectivity and extreme automation. Previous industrial revolutions were respectively driven by the new technologies of steam power, electricity and the microchip. But this new era features new levels of connectedness (four billion users connecting with one trillion devices) and sophistication of automation (in the shape of artificial intelligence) happening at the same time.

And when two extremes collide we can really expect fireworks. UBS makes four predictions for an era of extreme connectedness and automation, also known as Industry 4.0, which it presented in a paper at Davos 2016. This year we’ve already seen one of its predictions come to pass: the disparity in the fortunes between knowledge workers and those bypassed in other industries has resulted in political fallout and the Brexit and Trump electoral outcomes.

Extreme automation in the form of an increasing use of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) won’t just affect the rustbelt, but will affect many aspects of all of our lives, often for the better. One of the new frontiers for AI is the processing of language and images, which have been out of reach of computers until now. Extreme automation will usher in software robots and AI to produce output, analyze results and make complex decisions.

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In medicine, cognitive systems and AI are already improving patient outcomes, while FinTech has utilized robo advice to devastating effect in financial services. AI will increasingly be embedded in digital systems across a host of domestic services as householders sit back and let their smart houses take care of all their domestic needs.

Extreme connectivity is simultaneously occurring as systems and devices interact and communicate with each other and people in real time. With a vast population of people across continents connecting over fifth generation (5G) wireless networks, data and rich functionality can be exchanged with extraordinary effect.

Among other future impacts are the emergence of new economic systems and new business models. But perhaps the biggest business need in the near future will be for more sophisticated cyber defences as more interconnectedness creates a greater cyber vulnerability.

We’ll be discussing the impacts of an extreme digital age on the BVEX and, as always, I’m looking forward to the insights that our connected community will bring.

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Helen Beckett

Author: Helen Beckett

Helen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange. She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.