We are heading into the Fourth Industrial Revolution in our world’s history.
The first was the invention of the steam engine, the second was the rise of electricity, which led to the ability to mass-produce products, and the third was the arrival of computers and digital technology at scale.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, as described by the World Economic Forum, will revolutionize velocity, scope and systems impact. They cite that “the possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited.”
Because of this, we are seeing disruption throughout the workplace. Today, I want to look at three areas that have caught my eye.
Transportation And Commuting
When we look at the evolution of transportation from 1900 to 2000, it is astounding. Cars became available to consumers at mass, air travel became a possibility and we even put a man on the moon! In this century, we won’t necessarily see new vehicles for transportation, but we will change the way we interact with the ones that exist.
It’s hard to mention disruption in the transportation industry without talking about ride-sharing services. Whether it be Uber or Lyft, getting around cities — especially ones you’ve never been to before — is easier than ever.
Having the ability to hail cars from your phone is only the beginning for ride-sharing. Companies are testing ways to commute through the air with companies like Uber already offering a helicopter service in New York City with plans to launch aerial ride-sharing in 2023.
When it comes to these advancements in transportation, a big benefit is that it saves riders time. Instead of being stuck in traffic, you can be in the back of a car (or helicopter) and take calls, answer emails and stay productive. And soon, you may be able to do all of that from your own car as well.
Despite predictions that autonomous vehicles would be here at scale by 2020, they aren’t quite yet. But we are getting closer and closer every day. Nearly every major car manufacturer is working toward a world where you don’t need to be vigilant when behind the wheel. How far away are we? It depends on who you ask, but when it arrives, it will change how we view our commutes, road trips and more.
Internal And External Communication
With the device that is in your pocket or the one in your hand as you read this, you have the ability to contact someone on the other side of the planet in an instant.
In recent years, we’ve seen the emergence of tools like Slack or Flock, which provide an easy messaging system for companies to use internally. We use one of these internally at Trufan, allowing us to streamline communication and tackle projects, ideas and issues quickly.
Social media has also changed external business communication. Outside of the obvious ways — like having the potential to reach millions of people with one tweet (that will cost you $0.00 to create) — social media has dramatically changed the way we interact with customers.
You can receive instant feedback, complaints, concerns and praise from your customers via social media. As such, it’s important to reply to all customer service messages that your accounts are mentioned in. According to Statista, almost 50% of those surveyed have a more favorable view of a brand if they respond to customer service questions or complaints. Replying to messages on social media is a simple but effective way to build brand loyalty.
This also provides a way to reach new customers. How do you do this? Create engaging content that people want to watch. As a 2019 article on Entrepreneur explains, you need to “provide massive amounts of value before asking for anything in return.” Value in your content can come in many ways, whether it be information, motivation, entertainment, etc.
With that said, focus on bringing people value instead of selling to them. When it’s time for them to buy, they’ll likely think of a company that has recently brought them value.
Education And Employee Development
As mentioned in a 2019 Harvard Business Review article, 80% of CEOs believe that the need for new skills among their employees is their biggest challenge. In order to build these new skills into organizations, nearly two-thirds of HR leaders say they plan to recruit the skills they need. However, building technical skills internally can cost much more than recruiting externally.
What can you do? The first thing doesn’t actually require tech. Get to know your employees on a one-on-one basis and create a customized plan for everyone.
With free resources like YouTube and Google, your employees have the ability to self-teach new skills that they wish to learn. If your team needs a more structured work environment, you can pay for them to use online learning platforms, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy. Platforms like this allow them to learn specific skills at a rate they are comfortable with.
Another option, depending on the skill people want to learn, is leveraging your network and arranging a Skype or Zoom call between some of your team members and industry experts you know, allowing employees to learn from them remotely. Similar to the points mentioned above, thanks to technology, you can arrange meetings like this so your team can learn from your contacts all over the globe.
This Is Only The Beginning
I believe this is only the beginning of technology disrupting age-old processes in the workplace. As technology continues to advance, we will only see more improvements in transportation and commuting, communication and the way your employees learn and bring new skills into the workplace.