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Now prepare for the 5th Industrial Revolution

With technology advancing at an exponential rate, we stand on the brink of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and if business leaders aren’t adapting how they work, they risk getting left behind, writes STUART SCANLON, Managing Director at epic ERP.

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Karl Benz changed the world when he invented the first practical automobile that was powered by an internal combustion engine. Fast forward 130 years and self-driving cars are now a reality. With technology advancing at an exponential rate, we stand on the brink of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and if business leaders aren’t adapting how they work, they risk getting left behind. 

To put it into perspective, the First Industrial Revolution occurred roughly between 1760 and 1850 – lasting 90 years, while the second took place between 1870 and 1914 – lasting 44 years. The third is somewhere between 1969 and 2000 – covering approximately 31 years, and the fourth is currently underway. What’s consistent in all of these is the impact on people’s way of life and that the evolution of technology is speeding up. 

When it comes to Industry 5.0, there’s uncertainty about what it will bring and how it will disrupt business. What we do know is that it’s going to break down barriers between the real world and the virtual one. New technologies are going to be more sophisticated than anything we have experienced before, and they are going to be faster, more scalable and adopted globally. 

Augmented and virtual reality, big data, artificial intelligence and the most revolutionary of Industry 5.0 technologies – cryptocurrency. In the not-so-distant future we can expect cashless economies where cryptocurrencies are accepted around the world, and where everything is sold through e-commerce transactions. The Internet of Things is on the rise, as is blockchain technology, and while artificial intelligence will cause job losses, more efficient processes will drastically increase productivity.

The changes that are coming with the Fifth Industrial Revolution will affect how organisations operate, which is why business leaders need to prepare for tomorrow. To remain competitive, they will have to move away from how they have traditionally operated and they must embrace fresh ideas, new thinking and, of course, unfamiliar technology.

“When new technology from the next revolution becomes entrenched, we’re going to be conducting business in different ways,” says Stuart Scanlon, managing director for epic ERP, the official Southern African distribution partner for Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth. “Current systems won’t be able to handle the expected increase in productivity, which is why business leaders need to become early adopters of technology, to stay ahead of the changes.”

For an organisation to future-proof its business, it needs software that can support the unknown, together with agile infrastructure, so it’s better set up to adjust its services, products and procedures. To manage productivity and achieve success, the business will need to be flexible and run lean. 

“People have different opinions when it comes to predicting the start of Industry 5.0 but, if you consider the speed of transformation in technology, I believe it’s going to be here far sooner than most people think. The future is happening now and we need to rise to the challenges if we are to thrive in the next revolution,” says Scanlon.

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The future of the book… and of reading

Many fear that the days of the printed book are numbered. In truth, it is not so much the book that is evolving, but the very act of reading, argues ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Let’s talk about a revolutionary technology. One that has already changed the course of civilisation. It is also a dangerous technology, one that is spreading previously hidden knowledge among people who may misuse and abuse the technology in ways we cannot imagine.

Every one reading this is a link in a chain of this dangerous and subversive technology.

I’m talking, of course, about the printed book.

To understand how the book has changed society, though, we must also understand how the book has changed reading. That, in turn, will help us understand the future of the book.

Because the future of the book is in fact the future of reading.

Let’s go back to a time some may remember as their carefree youth. The year 400. 

(Go back in history with the links below.)

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Wearables enter enterprise

Regardless of whether wearables lack the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.

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The idea of integrating wearable technology into enterprise IT infrastructure is one which, while being mooted for several years now, has yet to take-off in earnest. The reasons behind previous false dawns vary. However, what is evident is that – regardless of whether wearables to date have lacked the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have. According to ABI Research, global wearable device shipments will reach 154 million by 2021 – a significant jump from approximately 34 million in 2016.

This projected increase demonstrates a confidence amongst CIOs which perhaps betrays the lack of success in the market to date, but at the same time reflects a ripening of conditions which could make 2018 the year in which wearables finally take off in the enterprise. A maturing IoT market, advances in the development of Augmented Reality (AR), and the impending arrival of 5G – which is estimated to have a subscription base of half a billion by 2022 – are contributing factors which will drive the capabilities of wearable devices.

Perhaps the most significant catalyst behind wearables is the rise of Edge Computing. As the IoT market continues to thrive, so too must IT managers be able to securely and efficiently address the vast amounts of data generated by it. Edge Computing helps organisations to resolve this challenge, while at the same time enabling new methods of gathering, analysing and redistributing data and derived intelligence. Processing data at the edge reduces strain on the cloud so users can be more selective of the data they send to the network core. Such an approach also makes it easier for cyber-attacks to be identified at an early stage and restricted to a device at the edge. Data can then be scanned and encrypted before it is sent to the core.

As more and more wearable devices and applications are developed with business efficiency and enablement in mind, Edge Computing’s role will become increasingly valuable – helping organisations to achieve $2 trillion in extra benefits over the next five years, according to Equinix and IDC research.

Photo by Kathryn Bacher.

Where will wearables have an impact?

At the same time as these technological developments are aiding the rise of wearables, so too are CIOs across various sectors recognising how they can best use these devices to enhance mobile productivity within their organisation – another factor which is helping to solidify the market. In particular it is industries with a heavy reliance on frontline and field workers – such as logistics, manufacturing, warehousing and healthcare – which are adopting solutions like AR smart glasses. The use case for each is specific to the sector, or even the organisation itself, but this flexibility is often what makes such devices so appealing. While wearables for the more traditional office worker may offer a different but no more efficient way for workers to conduct every day tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls, for frontline and field workers they are being tailored to meet their unique demands and enhance their ability to perform specific tasks.

Take for example boiler engineers conducting an annual service, who could potentially use AR smart glasses to overlay the schematics of the boiler to enable a hands-free view of service procedures – meaning that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert. Elsewhere, in the healthcare sector smart eyewear may support clinicians with hands-free identification of patient records, medical procedures and information on medicines and results.

Such examples demonstrate the immediate and diverse potential of wearables across different verticals. With enterprise IT infrastructure now in the position to embrace such technologies, it is this ability to deliver bespoke functionality to mobile workers which will be the catalyst for continued uptake throughout 2018 and beyond.

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