The fourth industrial revolution (4IR)
The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is the trendiest buzz phrase at the moment, more so in both business and technology industry publications, spaces and platforms. However, not much or not enough is being done to provide practical solutions or ideation around how businesses can and should welcome 4IR. Most enterprise or multination businesses have the capacity to acquire the skills, knowledge base and expertise that will keep them ahead of the curve in relation to these developing technologies. Mostly to develop strategies to reduce the organisation’s cost base and improve efficiency mostly through automation. However, this article is not around the perpetual existing narrative whether technology and more specifically 4IR is for or against job creation and unemployment crisis in South Africa.
This article though is about sparking the discussion particularly around how SME’S can be enabled to leverage and absorb existing technologies and platforms as business-critical tools. Helping SME’S understand developing technologies and therefore identify opportunities within 4IR to improve business growth or access to markets. To achieve this in my view requires the huge knowledge gap between innovators or pioneers in technology subject matter and emerging entrepreneurs to be bridged. One of the key ways this can be done is to create openly accessible and regular platforms which facilitate dialogue and a knowledge transfer between technology experts and SME’s. SME’S founded by emerging and aspirant entrepreneurs require both proximity and guidance from pioneers that will them fully grasp different technologies within a rapidly advancing sector.
4IR has become a generic term cavalierly thrown around to advance bureaucratic and political narratives. When in reality is that interventions to assist SME’s connect the dots and understand the real implications beyond not adapting are still under resourced. This ultimately means SME’s never really gain proper line of sight of where genuine opportunities within Artificial intelligence AI, machine learning or internet of things (IOT) to penetrate new markets or service old ones better. Given the context of our countries disadvantaged educational background and lack early exposure to technology for the majority, makes the task to balance out the knowledge economy a mammoth but a required one. There is no silver bullet to the grand challenge, however, one thing for sure is that it can’t be left to formal learning institutions to achieve and on their own.
“The process requires a deliberate collaborative effort from government, private sector, and even small digital/technology agencies to facilitate the “handover” between technology experts who sit with the wealth of knowledge and the knowledge seekers. In my capacity as a technology product manager and digital marketing strategist, I have realised my greatest responsibility is to demystify technology from the developers and the users. An information conduit or bridge that clearly defines and articulates practically packaged technology for the benefit as well as practical human use. These form part of our small role as an e-commerce based ticketing start-up gatestamp and a boutique digital marketing agency akanyaleano. To use a modular approach that respectively assists SME’S of different growth spectrums, leverage existing technologies and platforms digitize processes and begin the transitional adaption to 4IR”