Is Your Brand Prepared for The Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Isadora Teich wrote this article
Throughout history, several sweeping periods of advancement have changed where, when, and how human beings work, shop, communicate, travel, and live.
We are currently living in the throes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
So, what does this really mean for workers, businesses, and human beings as a whole? How can you be ready to adapt?
Let’s take a look.
Humanity and The Industrial Revolutions
The first major industrial revolution involved mechanization.
From the late 18th to the early 19th centuries, agriculture became a real industry and coal extraction began. This new type of energy powered railroads and planted the seeds for the start of a true global economy.
The Second Industrial Revolution happened right at the turn of the 19th century.
Powered by electricity, gas, and oil; this was the age of invention. The telegraph, telephone, airplane, and automobile all found their origins in this era. It is considered the most important industrial revolution.
For now, that is.
The Third Industrial Revolution belongs to the 20th century.
This included the creation of nuclear power and early electronics, telecommunications, and computers. This was the era the doors of space expedition and bio-technology were flung wide open for us.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a bit more controversial.
Some say it isn’t happening at all. Others say that we are already living it.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to the sweeping effects of the spread of the internet and more advanced digital technology on global society.
It’s easy to look back at the past and see how certain revolutions happened and what their effects were.
However, it is impossible to look at something that’s happening right now and predict how it will have moved the world forward in a decade. Especially when there’s such a variety of technological advancement happening all at once, and so quickly.
This might explain why some are more reluctant to frame the rise of such advanced technologies as an Industrial Revolution.
Here’s what we can say for sure: The spread of the internet has already disrupted and killed some industries, created entirely new ones, and fundamentally changed how most people work, think, communicate, and live.
If that’s not an industrial revolution, I don’t know what is.
Living In The Digital Age
Everyone and everything from your favorite YouTuber or Podcaster to your last Amazon purchase to the last Netflix series you binge-watched to your last date from Hinge are all proof that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is indeed in full swing.
How we consume and experience physical objects, media, and even find love — happens either entirely through the internet, or uses it as an intermediary.
2019 research from Stanford shows that almost 40% of heterosexual couples meet online.
That consumers do a large amount of shopping digitally is no longer surprising.
What is surprising is that the majority of online shoppers have forgone desktop shopping almost entirely. Most online consumer traffic comes from mobile devices, accounting for 70% of all global traffic. That’s also how the majority of purchases are made today.
A Mini Case Study
In order to understand how your business can cope best with sweeping digital change, I think it is important to look at your environment with a critical eye.
Let’s take a look at one media titan that has fallen somewhat behind lately: Cable television.
The Fall of TV
It could be argued that, while it once had the power to grip the nation, Cable TV has been on life-support for quite some time.
America has a large population of young people, and for years, studies have shown that fewer of them are turning on the TV.
In fact, the median age of CNN viewers is 61. And, this actually gives them one of the youngest audiences amongst cable networks.
Of course, most young people typically haven’t yet reached retirement to enjoy much daytime cable tv (which may account for some of the above stats) — but fact is, they are also just more likely to use on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video instead.
Many major TV events that used to be huge draws for advertisers have become ratings disasters in recent years.
The 2019 Emmy’s, for example, was the least-watched Emmy’s ever. No one was even surprised by this, as fewer and fewer people tune in every year. The 2020 Golden Globes also had an 8-year viewership low.
Where Is TV Going Wrong?
Many speculate about this. Some blame the rise of ‘niche’ entertainment content (there’s a Netflix show for that!), some blame “kids these days,” (okay, boomer) and still others blame the quality of content out there.
Maybe, after 40 years of the same cop-and-doctor procedural shows, people just want something else.
A huge factor is the way network television shows are produced and aired. It can be difficult to stay relevant and compete with internet content makers, and the plethora of original content offered on streaming platforms more suited to releasing regular content for viewers to binge-watch on-demand.
Perhaps one of the biggest implications of the The Fourth Industrial Revolution for businesses has been the impact on how modern consumers interact with brands and creators they admire.
Not only can consumers publicly communicate with you (looking at you, social media), but they expect you to listen, respond and adapt quickly.
But this is a wholly new territory that Network TV simply was not set up to operate within.
An excellent example of this is the new late-night talk show A Little Late with Lilly Singh. As a successful YouTuber with over 15 million followers, Lilly Singh has had one of the least successful talk show launches in history. In fact, YouTube videos critiquing her show likely have more views than her actual show.
Why is this?
Most network TV shows often produce long strings of episodes at once. This means there’s no time to actually react to wider audiences in real-time or make any corrections. While it is efficient to do it this way, it also means that shows may go on making big mistakes for entire seasons.
So, as criticism builds and builds for Lilly Singh’s show, there is really nothing anyone can do to address these issues. All of the episodes with those same problems have already been filmed and are just waiting to be unleashed, one by one, upon YouTube fandom.
Regardless of your industry, you need to make sure that your business is structured so it can adapt and grow to ensure long-term success.
While the Lilly Singh example is extreme, and it is highly unlikely that an entire sub-genre of YouTube content will spring up in response to your mistakes — you cannot forget about the power of your digital reputation. And what can happen when that turns against you.
PR and sales have blended right in with social media here in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
While Lilly Singh might have done some effective damage control by going online, explaining that all of the episodes were already filmed, and they cannot be changed, but she and the team working on the show will make things better in the future — she has not chosen to do that.
Instead, she has publicly insulted everyone criticizing her show.
As we like to say in the industry, “Um, yikes.”
In reality, companies and content creators across all industries are struggling to handle the complexities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Between ever-shifting consumer demands, the rise of personalization when it comes to the user experience, near-constant technological advancement, and an unpredictable and evolving global market — it’s a lot to keep up with.
But from the seeds of the Fourth Industrial Revolution sprout new tools and technology to automate tasks and seamlessly connect people like never before.
How we perform basic tasks, shop, meet people, communicate, and consume content is changing every day.
What Can You Do To Modernize?
People expect easy gratification and quick responses. And, if they don’t get them, they can also let you know instantly.
Is your business structured to quickly respond and adapt to feedback?
It wasn’t too long ago when every business claimed the key to winning customers was in the quality of the product or service they deliver.
But, things have changed.
Cable TV is also trying to make some changes, such as offering OTT apps. However, it may be impossible for the core industry as it was at its height to fully adapt.
And this shows in both its general reputation and its numbers.
Restructure For Adaptability
Depending on your current structure, this might involve simplifying things so you can make changes faster. Especially for large or legacy organizations, changing protocols dating back years might seem almost impossible.
But you have to make it a priority for your company moving forward into the next decade.
Consumers stay loyal to brands due to the experience they receive, and if you cannot keep up with their increasing demands and expectations, your once loyal customers will leave you.
From the outside, consumers don’t know how a company operates. If you fail to adapt or even just respond appropriately to them and the general market, they may assume you are unprofessional or simply don’t care about providing what they are truly seeking.
Quantifying and delivering an exceptional client experience at scale needs to be your company’s number one priority.
Invest In Your Digital Brand
If you do not have a digital content creation or digital reputation management team of some shape or form, it is officially time to invest in one.
Consumers expect to interact with businesses and their brands online, increasingly more often thinking of themselves as brands!
Not only are they looking to invest in products and purchases that align with their personal values, they want to express these values clearly to the outside world.
Social media platforms have risen in power and authority beyond the constraints of the digital world, with social influencers sometimes earning up to $250k for a single post.
Today, even the average consumer is conscious of the impact their personal brand on social media may have on real-life success.
Digital content creation is just one of the many new professions invented as a result of the fourth industrial revolution. Many once authors and newspaper journalists earn their living distributing content across a variety of online platforms.
Many celebrities on social media are no longer writing their own tweets and curating their own Insta feed. The creation and management of social media content for businesses and public figures of all kinds are now thriving industries.
Remember, more people will click on your website or check out your tweets than will ever visit you in person. You never know which Facebook post or Instagram Story might be the one that connects with your audience. You need your digital reputation to be strategic and strong.
Understanding that your digital presence is part advertising, part sales, and part PR.
Changes are not only in full swing when it comes to social media and consumer expectations. Tools and technology that can change the very structure of your business internally are undergoing major innovations all the time. Things that once had to be done by one person, or even a team of people, are slowly becoming automated.
One example is the slow road to the complete automation of emails.
Many companies are using programs to send out recurring emails to their followers. Others are using AI to help generate catchy subject lines.
However, it is likely that in the future, even email responses themselves can be automated and generated by AI.
Automation will always be used to assist professionals in their work at first.
However, eventually, it will begin to take over many tasks we once did ourselves. Including app development. Likely, in our lifetime, this will change exactly what jobs consist of and how they are defined.
Right now, we are at the beginning of a period of great transition when it comes to AI, and we can only hypothesize what that that might look like.
Being aware of these changes and how you can harness them can only help you in the future. They can help you streamline your business and do more, faster, and more efficiently for your customers with a data-driven app.
Consider New Ways Of Working
In the old days, people sat at their desks in their offices every weekday from 9-5, and that was that. But this is no longer the case. When Microsoft Japan tested out a 4-day work week in 2019, they saw incredible results. Sales per employee rose by 40%.
While a traditional business model dictates that you squeeze as much out of employees as possible for maximum profit, many of the world’s biggest companies are finding that investing in employee happiness is a powerful investment.
For example, Google’s HQ features fun statues, is known for its striking design, and offers employees free gourmet food.
It is possible that, in the future, AI will make it possible for people to work fewer hours and get more done. Incredible software’s out there to help augment our work needs.
Shorter workweeks, like the Microsoft experiment, or maybe even days will become commonplace at many companies. This will allow people to have more time to enjoy life outside of their work while still being highly productive.
Know That Remote Work Is On The Rise
Remote work is another child of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Even many large traditional companies offer employees the option to work from home when it suits them. Some companies have no brick and mortar HQ at all.
At Chop Dawg, we’ve always been remote-first — with members of our team living around the world and meeting virtually to collaborate or meet at any one of our six U.S locations, should the need arise.
We work to build apps that help businesses take on the fourth industrial revolution every day — even when that happen to be on a different continent.
While this might seem radical to some, the data tells a different story.
An analysis by FlexJobs and Workplace Analytics shows that between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% rise in remote work. In 2015, 3.9 million U.S. workers were working remotely. In 2019, that number reached 4.7 million people.
That’s 3.4% of the U.S. population. This year, seventy-four percent of U.S. workers said they’re ready to quit their jobs for one that lets them work from anywhere, and 66% believe the physical office will be obsolete by 2030, a new Zapier survey showed.
That’s pretty compelling stuff, if you ask me.
Is Your Business Ready For The Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The bottom line is this: Everything is changing out there.
The line between creator and consumer is getting thinner all the time.
This means that quick and adaptable communication on all digital fronts is a necessity for brands. The Fourth Industry Revolution has already started, and it is impossible to say exactly which things will change and how quickly from here.
And just when we thought we’d seen it all: The new 5G network looming on the horizon will quite literally bring apps to life — taking the power of digital technology from just the palm of our hands, and infusing it into our daily lives with new smart cities and mixed reality apps.
But more on that another time.
Right now, businesses need to keep their ear to their ground and their eyes on that News Feed to stay competitive. Over the next decade, brands that were once household names, but are not able to adapt quickly enough, may cease to exist altogether.
Are these ideas new to you, or has your business already been doing most of them? Do you think we are in the midst of a major industrial revolution?
Talk to me below.
About ChopDawg.com: Since 2009, we have helped create 300+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.
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