Introducing the Fourth Industry Revolution
In January 2016, the World Economic Forum hosted its 45th annual meeting in Davos-Klosters. For almost half a century, the Swiss nonprofit foundation has engaged business, political, academic and other leaders of society (and Bono) to shape global, regional and industry agendas committed to improving the State of the World. This is and has been a tall order, considering the many macro social and economic challenges we face in an ever faster changing world.
The top Ten global challenges that are center of discussion at the Forum are: (1) Agriculture and Food Security, (2) Economic Growth and Social Inclusion, (3) Future of Work, (4) Climate Change: Environmental and Natural Resources Security, (5) Future of Global Financial Systems, (6) Gender Parity, (7) International Trade and Investment, (8) Future of the Internet, (9) Long-term Investing: Infrastructure and Development, and (10) Health Care.
Although it has been well understood throughout the years that there is no one silver bullet to address all these global challenges, this year's overarching theme was dubbed by WEF founder Professor Klaus Schwab as the "Fourth Industrial Revolution", looking for some common ground and concepts that could have a profound impact on most -if not all- global challenges. Hundreds of meetings and presentations explored the opportunities this new Era provides us to tackle some of the toughest challenges of economic, social, and environmental nature.
The World Economic Forum explains the Fourth Industrial Revolution as follows: "The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres."
At Cisco, we not only have seen this coming, but we have also done and will continue to do our part shaping this Fourth Industrial Revolution. The Fourth Industrial Revolution leads to digital transformation that allows us to re-imagine how we enable, differentiate, and define how we work, live, learn, and play. It is predicated on a hyper-connected world; one where people, processes, data, and things (digital and physical things) communicate freely with one another and add and extract unprecedented value of their endless interactions.
For the opportunities to be fair and sustainable, the transformation needs to be secure, accessible, and equitable. New rules for the new world may need to be enforced, while old rules may need to be eliminated in order to support unlimited and unchallenged innovation that is both incremental and transformational. New business models will be introduced, new industries may be formed, and existing industries may face some even more challenging times. An open and open-minded dialogue therefore is required between the people, private sector, public sector, and institutions.
When we do it right, and take advantage of the full potential of the Fourth Industry Revolution, we will transform our urban challenges, solve our economic disconnects and create prosperity for everyone, modernize education and health care, be safer and more secure, turn around our climate problems, and do so much more.
The team at the World Economic Forum has done a fabulous job synthesizing the many discussions that took place at the Annual Meeting on the broad impact of digital transformation. I highly recommend you visit their website and read some of them for yourself: http://www.weforum.org/.
Rather than trying to summarize it all here, I have agreed with myself to dedicate some of my future blogs to the foundational building blocks of the digital transformation instigated by the Fourth Industry Revolution and share some context of the outcomes as we are witnessing them today and predicting them for the future.