The Fourth Wave of the Industrial Revolution

A few weeks ago in San Francisco, I attended Dreamforce — the annual Salesforce conference which not only launches it’s new technologies but challenges leadership and inspires conversation, including discussion about the fourth wave of the industrial revolution. There were 170,000 participants attending 2700 events, yet one thing I noticed was people were consistently attached to his or her devices: #techneck. Everywhere I looked people were on mobile phones, laptops, AirPods and Apple watches. There was much discussion about the fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution, the Knowledge Age, which is all about using quantum computing to develop AI, digital assistance and blockchain, to name a few. As we emerge from the Information Age which was all about digitalisation, we are flying into the Knowledge Age which is using the data we have previously collected to create insights and opportunity. This is also the age of digital ‘trust’ which is a different and bigger conversation. I reflected on my early days of working in IT at IBM and Apple. I recall that Apple did a video called ‘Knowledge Navigator’ in 1987. That video was a dream. Now, we take all the technologies presented in that video for granted. I came across this GIF on twitter about what the evolution of the desktop. I have experienced transformation in ways that we used to only dream of — all in my lifetime (and I am not that old).

The transformation of the desktop GIF makes me consider how much my life has changed in terms of how I manage it. What I do know is that digital assistance will become absolutely pervasive in our everyday lives. That pervasiveness became clear to me today as I rushed about the City, like Dick Tracy, with my AirPods in and speaking to Siri on my phone… I realised that we have become the future. We are so entrenched in our technologies and its necessity in our life that we often forget how quickly our world has morphed. Even last week, Instagram had a global outage and threw the world into a spin. The knowledge age allows us, as global citizens, to dissolve all boundaries and connect and merge with people, places and things easily. For instance, it doesn’t feel so long ago that I was using travellers cheques when I travelled! And while I have been engaged with Citi to promote its Global Currency Account, travelling for Dreamforce in San Francisco, the Global currency card really worked in a number of ways. It added a sense of ease and transparency to all of my expenses (and I was not hit by exchange fees on each transaction (let alone varying currency rates). It gave me the ability to act as a ‘native’ in a foreign country — I could buy online in US currency and have items delivered to my hotel given I effectively had a local ‘debit card’ Another benefit to the emergence of the Knowledge Age is the roaming and pervasive WIFI. We cannot go to a new city without being able to check Google Maps. We are now able to travel to somewhere new not knowing where the best place to go and eat, drink and explore prior because we can simply ask our reliable BFF Siri who’s available to chat at any time of the day. I wonder where the role of the Concierge has gone? While overseas, I was able to find the newest speakeasy and listen to jazz, book restaurants, buy tickets to a ball game and shop a dress in the local currency for an upcoming event — all digitally and immediately. Without the digitalisation of our current era, I wouldn’t have had time to organise so many events as I was travelling for business after all… The rise of the fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution allows us to weave so much more into our lives with greater ease, and frees our time so we can experience life more presently, in the moment. Everything that was once just a dream, aspiration or science fiction, is in fact at our fingertips.

Also published on Medium.

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