What would happen if the fifth industrial revolution began tomorrow? If our companies hadn’t even started the fourth one, would we be ready for it?

Industry 4.0 (or the fourth industrial revolution) is the force transforming the world as we know it. Its reach and complexity make it unlike anything that humans have ever experienced before. And the fifth is already on its way.

Big Data, virtual reality, blockchain, robots, 3D printing … The idea that a factory could run entirely on technologies like these and that paper and pencil will disappear is inconceivable, yet it’s also inevitable. Experts expect the fifth industrial revolution to start somewhere between 2030 and 2050. That’s little more than 10 years away, which means that either we start preparing for it now or it’ll be upon us before we’ve adjusted to its predecessor.

The fifth industrial revolution will take shape as resources become increasingly scarce. Little by little, sustainability will gain in importance as the awareness grows that, sooner or later, our resources will be exhausted and that only technology can provide a substitute for them. After all, why do we need a million paper books when we can store the same number or more on an e-reader? Why wait to see the outcome of an experiment if we can simulate it using virtual reality? Why employ a human to perform a task when a robot can do the same thing faster and without tiring? These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves. And they hold the answer to why technology’s reach is expanding exponentially. Barely without realising it, we’ve already entered the fourth industrial revolution, and similarly, the fifth will be here before we know it. Smart buildings, robots that act as personal assistants, retina scanners instead of ID cards, videoconferencing … Extrapolating all of that to our factories, how will we deal with the new scenario if we haven’t even gone digital yet? Without digitisation there’s no progress, and without progress there’s no future.

It’s essential to start preparing for the future now, because we’ll be welcoming the fifth industrial revolution sooner than we think.

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