The Fourth Industrial Revolution is here. It demands changes in the way the workforce functions. With it, some businesses might find themselves feeling left behind.
A new kind of workforce seems daunting, especially to smaller businesses. Everywhere, people are met with the same message: the future is automation, AI and blockchain. But this doesn’t exactly bring comfort to a small business owner with a low budget.
Industry 4.0 has the potential to present a business with a wealth of opportunities. However, this brings to question: How can you, as a small business or even as a bigger one, prepare for the restructuring of the entire workforce and monopolise on these opportunities?
There are simple ways that you can begin. The good news: you’ve got a head start.
Formulating a future plan
Bringing nascent technology into your business doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It can start small.
Industry 4.0 will have a strong economic and social impact. Businesses must prepare themselves for this change. The World Economic Forum discuss ‘Legacy countries’ (such as Hungary, India and Turkey) which have a strong structure of product but will struggle to meet the demands of Industry 4.0. Legacy countries contrast against Drivers of High Potential Countries or Drivers of Production, who adopt nascent technologies to put themselves ahead in Industry 4.0.
Businesses are often products of their countries, and they function in a similar way. This means it’s vital for businesses to take initiative and move ahead, especially if they are based in a Legacy country. Companies must change how they produce and function to stay ahead.
This includes reskilling workers and bringing technological innovation into your production line.
As a business, you might still use traditional processes. You can put yourself ahead by carefully introducing nascent technologies. First, you need to look at where certain technologies could help you. This could mean something as simple as:
- Using automated processes to do previously human-enacted calculations
- Bringing blockchain in for supply chain management instead of costly, time-consuming traditional processes such as paper-based ones
- Using artificial intelligence to predict future business trajectories, or to plan manufacturing processes
Bringing Industry 4.0 technology into business doesn’t need to be as complicated as using automation in your factories or quantum computing for your calculations. While all of this may, one day, become a reality or even a requirement, for now it’s possible – and necessary – to start small.
How will this affect my business?
You might be wondering: will machines replace the jobs of my employees? Will AIs one day run entire companies?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is this: While some jobs will be lost in Industry 4.0, there are lots of jobs that machines, simply, cannot do. These largely include creative and managerial jobs.
In addition, the automated workforce will not function on its own any time soon. Instead, workers will need to be upskilled or reskilled to remotely operate machines and to supervise and monitor them. So, it’s unlikely there will come a time when all industries are automated and the workforce can function without human intervention.
The changes and the risks
Industrial change isn’t without risk. The benefits do, however, largely outweigh them. It will become necessary for companies to implement efficient security into the manufacturing process to avoid remote attacks.
Another risk is that some workers may struggle to adapt to the change. This is why education and extensive training is vital. Workers need to be trained in how to use the new technology. This is a necessary part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a new era of manufacturing.
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