The New Industrial Revolution is at Our Doorstep!
Partly due to my interest, partly because of my job, I closely follow growth and innovation policies in the global economy. Be it individuals, companies or countries, everyone these days has the same concern: “How are we supposed to protect and increase our revenues in this decelerating and volatile economy?” Ideas abound, programs are many - as though the pie were the same, and the game would end with one winner and one loser.
THEN I recently came across a book* that changed my pessimistic outlook… Who knew that we were on the verge of a revolution that could potentially solve many of our problems in industry! What’s more, since this is the continuation of a trend that has been repeating for centuries (in fact, each revolution happens when existing technologies gain momentum and spread), there is quite a high probability it will happen. The new industrial revolution is at our doorstep – and this time around, it is even more technological, and, because it is going to be extensive, democratic as well!
The essence of this is quite obvious in economic history – there are two main facts that repeat:
- The manufacturing industry is always the engine of growth; it is present in all revolutions experienced in economic history…
- One strong component present in all major revolutions in economic history is “the acceleration of growth through a new technology becoming widespread”.
This is what we see looking at the four revolutions that have occurred so far:
The first industrial revolution: The development of new products and machinery thanks to cheaper steel resulted in revolutionary rapid growth in the whole economy;
The transport revolution: New, steam-driven transport vehicles made of cheap steel triggered rapid growth by accelerating the trading of goods and information;
The revolution of science: A boom of innovative products from steam turbines to electric and combustion engines brought about by the interaction of new chemicals and materials… Along with the discovery of electricity in particular, an extensive transfer of energy started;
The computer revolution: Thanks to more affordable silicon-based electronic circuits, many processes could be effectively controlled, and inexpensive automation became possible.
WHAT WILL THE NEW REVOLUTION BRING ABOUT?
Although the effect of the most recent computer revolution is still felt strongly today, some new features differentiate this new era:
The extreme end of "customized" production: We have been trying to make customized production more individualized for a lower cost since the 90s. In fact, the end of the 90s could be regarded as the beginning of the new industrial revolution as customized production became possible in larger volumes. However, now what is different is that “production directly for the individual” has become economically feasible thanks to new technologies (please google 3D printers).
"Designed in ..." instead of “Made in …”: Competitive edge in the manufacturing industry will be redefined with “more sophisticated design and production” and “production ceasing to be a core activity”. We can say that Apple, which has others produce almost of the parts of its products, is leading this trend.
Democratization in industry: Despite the fact that China will maintain its role as the production center of the world, both emerging economies (by closing the technology divide in production), and developed economies (thanks to the trend of “production close to the regional market”, and an increase in potential “niche production”) will witness an increase in their business in the manufacturing industry.
"Multi-disciplinary" interaction: Technology and production will be intertwined in an unprecedentedly intensive way. A very colorful Israeli person I recently met (after 20 years as a pilot, he first finished his PhD as an external student and became a scientist, and then changed into a high-tech medical devices entrepreneur) cut the story short: “An engineer who is developing a micro-device that will do valve repair in the heart has to know about physics like an expert physicist, biochemistry like a biochemist, and material sciences like a material scientist!” Leading universities of our time are devising programs that try to meet exactly this demand for multi-disciplinarity.
"Awesome technologies for serious issues”: Despite all development, the sustainability of food, environment, wellbeing and energy causes concerns today, but particularly two new technologies bear the potential to be the panacea for all our problems (google them!):
Nanotechnology: Manipulating materials at the atom level, it will introduce super products and applications in many areas from textiles to energy.
Synthetic biology: New materials that can potentially replace many petrochemical products we use today are developed by changing genetic codes through biochemical processes.
A NEW REVOLUTION WITH A NEW GENERATION...
In short, we are at the beginning of a new industrial revolution where technological and technical investment will accelerate, innovations will come from multi-disciplinary studies, and everyone's life will be positively affected.
Naturally, the common denominator, or the target group, for all of us in an article that mentions "the future, revolution and technology" is our children and youth.It seems the most attractive future jobs will be in science, technology and new generation engineering. Let's understand these developments well, and support and encourage the young to take part in this. Let's hold our mirror to not only the present, but the future, and seize the opportunities of the new revolution together with the new generation.
*Source: “The New Industrial Revolution” Peter Marsh