As industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution – which fuses physical, digital and biological domains of technological progress into one – plays out at the global economic theatre, intelligent transformation has become an epiphany or sort for the change-makers around the world. The forces that are recalibrating the world production system are, however, not strangers to the world of technology.
The long list of change agents includes the usual drivers of disruptions such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things (IoT), virtual reality, augmented reality and 5G or the fifth generation of communication technology that makes conversations smart as well as cheap. These game-changing trends are expected to usher in a new era of intelligent transformation in 2019 and beyond.
While the new technologies open up a plethora of opportunities, they also enhance the complexities at ground zero. As researchers at the World Economic Forum (WEF) rightly said as these trends play out in a synchronised fashion those who are carrying the load to take a call at public and private domains of business face new challenges since these technologies are spurring new production techniques, business models and value chains. These disruptions hold the promise to fundamentally transform global production system in an intelligent manner. But the velocity of changes adds to the already daunting task of developing and implementing strategies promoting productivity in the first place.
This is because as the technology slides into the next and new frontier business needs to create a strong knowledge-based architecture that supports transformative capabilities. This is indeed a tall order and the tide of technological change may not lift all the boats. It also depends to a great extent how firms are able to adapt to the technology absorption cycle. Large enterprises would accelerate the adoption of the robotic process automation and the blockchain technology to move towards becoming “real time enterprises”. A blockchain, originally block chain, is a growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked using cryptography. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data.
Another area of focus should be enhancing the user experience. The adoption of “conversational commerce” along with artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality will provide a more personalised user experience. Augmented analytics will automate the process of data preparation, insight generation and insight visualisation, eliminating the need for professional data scientists in many situations. There would also be significant increase in the proliferation of autonomous things such as self-driving cars, drones delivering groceries to robots performing surgeries.
Also in store is the promise of making quantum computing a reality by the vanguards of technology. Quantum computing is computing using quantum-mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement. A quantum computer is a device that performs quantum computing. Such a computer is different from binary digital electronic computers based on transistors. Finally, there is the ultimate thing of convergence of breakthroughs of cloud and artificial intelligence through machine learning to augmented reality and virtual reality.
Such convergence makes machines talking to machines a soon-to-be reality paving way for a shared future.
There is also the need for rolling out human-centric: technology that can unlock human potential by unleashing creativity, innovation and productivity in newer ways. Another area is sustainable: technology that can promote sound production processes that minimise negative environmental impact, conserve energy and resources and enable carbon neutrality.
Inclusive employers, companies and countries at different stages of development benefit from sweeping changes in technology and the transformation of production systems. As production systems stand on the brink of another technological breakthrough, business needs to build awareness of the changing nature of production, determine how to best prepare to benefit from this transformation and collaborate across the public sector and the private sector to enhance readiness.
There is also a felt need to build upon the existing capabilities and developing new capacities. Collaboration and co-ordination are central to build such a sustainable and innovative production system securing the future. These are the essentials to make intelligent transformation less painful though it may lead to changing pain points. Suffice it to say, in a dynamic and changing world, the future of business hinges on solution-driven: technology that can tackle and solve challenges that evaded solutions for long.
(The writer is partner at Singhi Advisors)