We are on the brink of a technological revolution that will completely alter the way we live, work, create and consume. This will be a transformation unlike anything humankind has experienced before in scale, scope, and complexity.



1st Industrial Revolution WATER & STEAM

Steam and water power replace human and animal power with machines.



2nd Industrial Revolution ELECTRICITY

Electricity, internal combustion engines, airplanes, telephones, cars, radio, and mass production.



3rd Industrial Revolution AUTOMATION

Electronics, the internet and IT used to further the automation of mass production.



4th Industrial Revolution CYBER-PHYSICAL SYSTEMS

Driverless cars, smart robotics, materials that are lighter and tougher, and a manufacturing process built around 3D printing.

Humans have overseen several waves of technological progress in the past 240 years.

We have moved from human and animal power, to mechanized production, to mass production and the proliferation of electricity, through to an age of electronics, information technology and automated production.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is now genuinely underway,

and it emphasizes the merging of cyber and physical systems. As the lines between digital, physical and biological continue to become more blurred, new technological arcs emerge with the potential to take humanity towards seemingly limitless advancements.

Disrupting the World’s Existing Patterns

Technological innovation will continue to create long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. As supply chains become localized due to technologies like additive manufacturing, and logistics and communication costs reduce, the cost of trade will decrease, leading to opening of new markets and economic growth.

Major changes on the demand side are also occurring, as growing transparency, consumer engagement, and new patterns of consumer behavior (increasingly built upon access to mobile networks and data) force companies to adapt the way they design, market, and deliver products and services. This, coupled with massive projected population growth in Asia and Africa, creates a shift in producers’ priorities.

On the other hand, the 4IR will have a drastic impact on labor markets. Intelligent automation will reduce labor requirements, and create a shift in skills requirements for the workforce. This needs to be effectively monitored and governed, with appropriate adjustments and planning made in the education sector.

Governments in Charge of a New World

As with businesses, 4IR transforms the expectations of government’s customers. Descriptions such as Adaptive, Customized, Personalized and On-Demand will become critical for government to absorb and convert into value drivers. Customers will expect that new technologies shape their experience in engaging with government, and an accelerating pace of change necessitates that government is constantly pushing the envelope on innovation, experimentation and roll-out of superior experiences.

As the physical, cyber, and biological worlds continue to converge, the experience of engaging with government will gain precedence. As a result, governments will assume new roles in managing technologies, as well as continuing to ensure that their citizens’ rights are protected. This creates new challenges in balancing surveillance of citizens, regulation of digital infrastructure and provision of services. Privacy, and an individual’s rights concerning privacy, will feature prominently in the future of government as 4IR technologies create vast amounts of data about our needs and behaviors.

Finally, government must be prepared for the redefinition of what it means to be human. 4IR technologies will create a shift in life spans, wellness, cognitive and physical abilities; this will require a revisit of moral and ethical boundaries, and the role and priorities of government.