In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum remarked, “The changes are so profound that, from the perspective of human history, there has never been a time of greater promise or potential peril.” This singular phrase encapsulates the double-edged nature of digitization, brought on by Industry 4.0 or the fourth industrial revolution that is currently making its way across the world. While the idea of the fourth industrial revolution was first expressed as far back as the 1940s, Industry 4.0 has been part of contemporary lexicon ever since the German government laid out its strategy for dealing with the inevitable reality of the digitization of manufacturing – the creation of ‘smart factories’ by assimilating physical manufacturing with the Internet of Things (IoT).
Several experts argue about the undue focus on technology that is bringing about the change of work and workforce, as we know it today. However, Schwab’s crowd-sourced book makes an important observation about the nature of Industry 4.0. “It is the fusion of these technologies and their interaction across the physical, digital and biological domains that make the fourth industrial revolution fundamentally different from previous revolutions”, he says.