The Fourth Industrial Revolution

By Jim Jones

The world has witnessed three transformative industrial revolutions that reshaped societies, economies, and individual lives. This is a period marked by the convergence of technologies that sit comfortably between the physical, digital, and biological. As we work through this new era of change, it is important for businesses and individuals to understand its implications.

The 18th and 19th centuries, during the First Industrial Revolution, saw the rise of manufacturing and industrial processing lines which replaced traditional artisan type production. It marked the beginning of organizational structures and urbanization, altering lifestyles from agrarian to industrial. The second Industrial Revolution was characterized by the invention of electricity and the rise of the steel and oil industries. The first and second industrial revolutions disrupted commerce and sparked a growth in urbanization and technology.

With the Third Industrial Revolution, we entered the digital age. Computers, the Internet, and automation reshaped manufacturing and communication, leading us to where we are today. And now it appears that a Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us. It would appear that we are now entering the fourth revolution, which is driven by AI, robotics, quantum computing, and other innovations. This Fourth Industrial Revolution promises to disrupt our world once again.

In his book titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution (2017), Klaus Schwab characterizes this revolution as “a transformation of humankind.” This type of revolution is likely to have a substantial impact on our everyday lives, influencing how we engage socially and conduct business.

Within the business realm, the imperative to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution is unmistakable. The rapid pace of change has surged significantly since the inaugural industrial revolution. Some companies are opting to establish protocols that prohibit the utilization of AI for business objectives. Nevertheless, the trajectory towards AI, particularly, is currently reshaping conventional business models. Early adopters of AI are already observing the advantages of integrating AI into business processes, yielding favorable outcomes for their financial standings. Research from McKinsey & Company, as outlined in “Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Frontier” (2018), underscores that businesses incorporating AI are encountering double-digit growth in sales, even with minimal augmentations to their sales teams.

Yet, the transformative impact of AI reaches beyond mere fiscal gains. AI is altering customer experiences, enhancing the process of decision-making, and fostering prospects for collaborative innovation. Even long-standing enterprises could find themselves susceptible if they disregard the potential of AI.

The key to triumph in this era hinges on a readiness to embrace innovation. Companies that unequivocally welcome the Fourth Industrial Revolution are poised to emerge as frontrunners. The amalgamation of AI, robotics, and other nascent technologies introduces a groundbreaking prospect that can propel efficiency, innovation, profitability, and ultimately customer satisfaction.

We stand on the precipice of a novel epoch, promising disruptions comparable to those in prior industrial revolutions. AI carries the potential to reconfigure our personal lives and commercial enterprises in ways that are difficult to envision. The opportunities are vast, and those who seize them will be architects of the future.


Schwab, Klaus. The fourth industrial revolution. Currency, 2017.
Chui, Michael. “Artificial intelligence the next digital frontier.” McKinsey and Company Global Institute 47, no. 3.6 (2017).