The Fourth Industrial Revolution: a three-act play
It is safe to say that we are currently in the midst of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, which permeates all sectors of economic and social life. Events are unfolding rapidly and the comparison with the classic three-act play - albeit at first sight perhaps rather far-fetched - is remarkably adequate. As with any substantial narrative, there are plenty of red herrings scattered throughout the plot to lead us astray, but every turn of events does eventually lead to a climax with clearly defined winners and losers.
Act One - Setting the stage
Ever since the Greeks livened up their oppresively hot evenings with captivating tragedies, the first act's main purpose has been to introduce the main protagonists and set a backdrop for the narrative. In this case, we can take the typical company and IT structure as our starting point. Considered in a broader context, we could see this as the 'established order' background from the mid-2000s - post-dotcom and pre-financial crisis, in a time where the internet was used as a mere tool in daily life and in the workplace.
This is where our first plot point or incident arises: a centralisation of platforms towards profound digitisation. This is expressed by a whirlwind of rapid technological advancements that become intertwined: mature social networks, consolidation of corporate tech giants and a general shift towards cloud-based services and applications, trailed by several secondary phenomena and (initially) showcase like the Internet of Things (IoT) and self-driving cars. It is important to note that this change cannot be epitomised by a single piece of technology - as was the case with previous Industrial Revolutions -, but that it is the result of a combination of developments in different fields and subfields.
Act Two - Confrontation
The exposition contains plenty of material for an explosive confrontation: technological disruptors face off against established, classic company and IT structures. In the middle of all this, a large group of passive onlookers is following this clash in bewilderment, wondering what the fuss is all about and, more importantly, what the impact on their own life and work situation will be. Mix in the occasional red herring for a good measure of confusion - robot taxes, job uncertainty, fifties nostalgia, etc. - et voilà, mayhem ensues. Some of the truly important issues and ethical questions (such as the role of nations in a globalised and connected world, privacy concerns and the wealth distribution puzzle) are at risk of becoming lost in the chaos, however.
This is the point where we take a step back and pause for an intermezzo. At the start of 2017, we are at exactly this point in our Industrial Revolution play: right before the resolution and climax, awaiting the big reveal of winners and losers and in anxious need of a new equilibrium.
Act Three - Resolution
If you are somewhat familiar with Dropsolid, you will already know where we are headed with our story. Clear winners will be companies who can fully embrace a digital-first existence and who can truly connect -in every sense of the word and throughout their entire organisation, both from an IT as well as a human capital perspective. We are true believers of a positive ending with digital industrialisation at the core. Protagonists who stay rooted in their old structures and let themselves get distracted by too many red herrings and side steps, will be out of existence before long.
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