The digital disruption already experienced by both businesses and individuals in the 21st century is often called the 3rd industrial revolution. Whether via the public Internet or private networks handling sensitive corporate information or personal health and financial data, digital technology is changing the way we live and work. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence may be ushering in the 4th industrial revolution.
This is an invisible virtual revolution where technology is ubiquitous and is part of everything we do. It is present in devices and applications we use every day, helping us to process, conceptualize and contextualize information. This augmentation of human intelligence is superior to any individual’s attempts to process the same volume of big data on our own. The revolution in which technology is a solution to many problems, at the same time presents new problems of socio-economic inclusion, legal compliance and privacy violations for example, that arise more quickly than they can be adequately confronted.
2016 was the year of democratization and popularization of technologies that previously seemed only accessible to large corporations. Today, digital transformation is a priority for more than 86% of CEOs in the corporate world and is very common to hear those business executives talking about the “Internet of things” (IoT), artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive sciences. This is a game-changing shift in corporate culture that opens up countless spectacular opportunities to create and to innovate.
We see four pillars of digital transformation: strengthening the relationship between companies and their customers, providing them with tools to interact in new ways that match their habits and interests, enabling workers with collaborative tools that augment their capacity and skills and promote productivity, and finally optimizing business operations and transforming products and services using big data and predictive analytics.
Two of the personal skills highlighted by the 2017 World Economic Forum as critical to success in 2020 are cognitive flexibility and emotional intelligence. This year, the buzz at WEF was about artificial intelligence. A person with emotional intelligence has nine key habits: focusing on the positive, surrounding themselves with warm people, connection and resolve, setting limits, forward thinking, learning from mistakes, seeking to be happier, solving problems using a positive approach and pursuing a strong education. This attitude toward life is fundamental to progress. The only constant in this next digital revolution is accelerated change, and we must each be prepared to accept it and deal with it proactively.
To explore this new reality we need leadership that generates clarity and dynamism and above all inspires everyone to walk this path in their own best way. People will often need to acquire new skills and change or modify their occupation, but without a doubt, it is still people, not computers, that will make the most difference.