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Why businesses can’t afford to ignore the fourth industrial revolution

Gavin Selkirk, President, APJ, BMC Software, Inc. | Feb. 26, 2016
Fourth industrial revolution is here and it is happening a lot faster than many of us ever imagined.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

In January 2016, business leaders and politicians gathered to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing our world today at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland.

The focus for this year's meeting was the fourth industrial revolution, but what exactly is that? Professor Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum's founder and executive chairman define it as, "a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human."

Definitions differ, however one thing we can all agree on is that the fourth industrial revolution is here and it is happening a lot faster than many of us ever imagined. While the first industrial revolution brought about a period of innovation that lasted over 100 years, each subsequent revolution lasted less than half as long as the one that preceded it, as the pace of innovation accelerates.

As the fourth industrial revolution gathers pace, it is bringing immense change at a speed, scale and force that is hard to comprehend. The increasingly interconnected world is dramatically changing the way we share, analyse and process information and will have far-reaching political, societal and economic consequences for all of us. With new technologies emerging at such an accelerated rate, businesses must act now if they are to survive and thrive.

Do or die: businesses must respond rapidly to the fourth industrial revolution   

Amid the flurry of technology innovations and changes in user behaviour it can be difficult to know which trends will last and which technologies are worth investing in. However throughout all of this there is one constant element: information. Businesses are increasingly recognising the importance and value of data. In fact, a phrase coined by Ann Winblad at Hummer-Winblad sums it up succinctly: 'Data is the new oil.'

Data is fast becoming a good without which businesses cannot succeed. Data is at the centre of everything we do. Every transaction, interaction, experience or development is not without a digital footprint. Now businesses are smarting up to how this data can create new revenue streams and fuel new digital economies. For example, the data collected from smart, connected cars might be accessed by insurance companies in the future, possibly affecting our insurance premiums.

Meanwhile the data collected from our smartphones paints a picture of who we are, what we like to purchase and where we like to visit. An iPhone alone has 32 sensors built in. All of this data provides valuable fodder for e-commerce and marketing organisations that want to sell us targeted goods and services. However this is also very personal information. Data, just like oil, is an incredibly valuable asset and it must be properly protected.


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