Not if all the investments and efforts are to bring high returns, argues this enterprise technology platform expert.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) described by the World Economic Forum describes a new chapter in human development enabled by extraordinary technology advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions.

While the global pandemic may have accelerated digital transformation (DX), a number of factors have slowly but surely led us to where we are today. A Lumen Technologies’ study in June 2020 indicated four main factors that are shaping 4IR: Changing customer expectations, cloud adoption, smarter workplaces and the reliance on data to make business decisions.

A large part of this transition is driven by the increasingly accepted wisdom that businesses can only thrive when decisions are made on the basis of objective insights drawn from measurable data. In fact, 91% of respondents in the survey believed that a business’ ability to quickly acquire, analyze, and act on data will be a key factor in determining if they will be a technology leader in the future.

4IR in the Asia Pacific region

Business leaders across Asia Pacific (APAC) are considerably concerned about AI, 5G and edge computing and what drives DX, according to the study. However, as these technologies generate more and more data, businesses need a robust, secure, and agile network to stay ahead of this surge.

The volume of available data across APAC has also grown exponentially in recent years. This is fueled by new consumption demands and patterns, new data tools and the growth of digital native businesses.

As an example, 86% of IT decision makers in Singapore were concerned with keeping pace with technological advances brought on by 4IR, compared to only 59% of the ITDMs in Denmark and 61% in Japan. Some 46% of these decision makers believed that 5G will have a significant impact on the future of business, compared to just 39% in the United States, 34% in Australia & New Zealand and 29% in Japan.

Machine learning and fiber infrastructure were also cited by ITDMs in Singapore as important factors impacting the future of business.

Digital-first for 4IR success

In 4IR, speed matters. Businesses that are nimble enough to act on data faster than their peers will be able to spot new trends, identify potential process improvements, speed innovation and drive bottom line growth.

The challenge is that such businesses need to be completely ready for next-generation applications and data transmission. They will need to be able to process more data and move more IT workloads closer to digital interactions. They will need to deliver on customer demands in real-time, make immediate adjustments based on market changes, and act instantaneously on decisions to stay competitive.

In other words, businesses will need to be equipped to harness the full potential of emerging technologies to operate effectively in the realities of the digital world. They will need systems that are built on robust technologies, and designed for data-intensive workloads.

Additionally, they will need global network and cloud infrastructure, security capabilities and collaboration services into advanced application architecture.

Most importantly, business leaders in 4IR will need a digital-first mindset as they will have to reposition their businesses from the ground up to fully leverage technology platforms that are built and designed for the digital world.