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Industry 4.0 is going to change life fundamentally

Written by Lien Ponnet on 25 March 2019 for Companies

According to serial entrepreneur and investor, Jurgen Ingels, Industry 4.0 will fundamentally change our way of life. “Technology will allow us to change reality as we know it,” he says. Industry 4.0 (i4.0) covers a wide range of emerging technologies and trends including the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, nanotechnology, and many more. These areas are developing at such a rate that companies and governments are struggling to keep up. In a recent interview, Jurgen outlined the ways he believes Industry 4.0 will change the world and the steps that companies and individuals must take to be successful.

Hacking into reality

Things are going to change dramatically, but if you believe it’s all science fiction, I’m here to tell you otherwise. Industry 4.0 is already here. In my mind, the driving force behind Industry 4.0 is the concept of ‘hacking’, which means changing different areas of the physical, biological and digital worlds. For example, in biotech, it’s now possible to alter human genes and create, in effect, superhumans. In materials science, scientists can alter substances on a molecular level and create new materials that didn’t previously exist.

But for me, hacking into reality is where things become seriously interesting. Advances in i4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality are changing reality as we know it by creating new virtual worlds and spaces for us to explore. And it’s technology that allows us to do this.

Exponential thinking

In my opinion, one of the biggest impacts of Industry 4.0 will be the way it stops us from thinking in a linear way and forces us to start thinking exponentially. Technology permits us to start thinking in this way, but our minds are very linear and we struggle to imagine what the future may hold. But it’s going to be different, and it’s going to be fun, I can tell you that.

The crux of the matter

So, how can businesses prepare themselves for the Fourth Industrial Revolution? I always say that creativity lies at the heart of the matter. Ultimately, success lies in our ability to be creative. While I’ve always said that you can’t ‘learn’ to be creative, you can develop or enhance your creativity. The more experiences and inputs you have, the more benefits you’ll receive from the different things you do. From the different jobs you work in, the different industries you operate in and even the different things that you read, you’ll open your mind and foster your creativity.

For me, trying to educate yourself with an open mind, and trying to be interested and curious is the best approach. Asking why things are the way they are and asking questions about the world is what you should be doing. This helps you combine ideas from different sectors and find the solutions that people are searching for.

Industry 4.0 - Continuous learning

Continuous learning

The concept of ‘continuous learning’, whereby you continually learn and re-train throughout your career, is going to become increasingly important as Industry 4.0 gets underway. As job roles enter a state of constant flux, people at all stages of their careers will have to continually ‘futureproof’ their skill sets in order to stay competitive.

But continuous learning is going to be important for companies, too. Businesses will have to evolve their human resources departments and take HR in a completely different direction compared with what they do today. Businesses must focus more on the talents of their team if they want to flourish.

Continuous learning also means that businesses will have to rethink the way they look at their employees’ careers. To thrive in tomorrow’s world, companies must have the vision to for example tell a certain employee to go away for six months to retrain him or herself, before returning to restart his or her career with the new skills they learned.

Skills to thrive in Industry 4.0

I believe that data handling skills will be one of the most important skills for thriving in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Being able to work with data, export data and make overviews of that data in different ways will be extremely important. On the other side, creativity, flexibility, and curiosity will also be essential skills.

Building a platform for collaboration

The future is all about building platforms and using those platforms to attract more services. The error of conglomerates is that everything is vertically integrated. As the rate of change increases, vertical integration makes it almost impossible for companies to adapt quickly. In the future, you’ll see companies focusing much more on talents and knowledge than they do right now. Companies will work in more of a horizontal way to provide an end-to-end solution for their customers. This will open them up, letting them work more with clients, suppliers, and competitors.

It’s already happening

Industry 4.0 isn’t science fiction anymore; we’re already in it and we’re already seeing and experiencing its impact. But it’s early days. The Fourth Industrial Revolution will dramatically affect the ways that we live and experience life – it’s going to change life fundamentally.

And you?

Industry 4.0 is already upon us; are you prepared? To gain the insights you need to thrive and prosper, be sure to watch Jurgen Ingels’ full video here and discover the steps you need to take to be successful as a company in Industry 4.0.