The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and the pandemic just accelerated the use of its technologies. But what does it really mean for us?
According to definition, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0 is the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices using modern technology with no need for human intervention. It was coined by the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum in 2015. Today, it is included as a solution to rebuild the world economy in the post-pandemic world via the Great Reset.
For the past year, technology has changed the way we work (remote work), the way we shop (digital stores), the way we learn (online education), the way we socialize (social media), and the way we get our medical needs (telemedicine). The use of Artificial Intelligence and data analytics is becoming in demand. Likewise, the need for tech and digital skills is rising in the global workforce. Tech positions are being considered the jobs of the future.
Looking back at the start of the pandemic, we can say that the main driver of this change is digitization. The integration of value chains, products and services, as well as business models and customer access have all become digital. Everything and everyone has gone online. What else can we expect this year and beyond? Here are a few things that Industry 4.0 aims to achieve:
Closing the gaps in digital access
As mentioned, tech has played a big part in the acceleration of the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the onset of the pandemic. But the problem is the provision of digital access to everyone. This includes addressing the need for connectivity (broadband and 5G), the use of mobile technology (apps and websites), and the demand for devices (smartphones and other gadgets).
Going digital is a long process and there are still a lot of people around the world who struggle to gain access.
Stopping cybercrime and ensuring data privacy and security
Just as everything and everyone goes online, so do the crooks and criminals who target companies and businesses transitioning to digital. They also prey on unsuspecting people who are new to the online world. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a lot of cyberattacks and issues with data fraud. Phishing through email and other apps is rampant as well.
As much as the world relies on technology, data privacy and security should be the topmost priority if we want to protect the integrity of the digital products we are using.
Good governance in technology
World leaders and their respective national governments should be able to maximize the use of emerging technologies for growth and innovation. Implementing good governance in tech means exercising political, economic, and administrative authority in the development and operation of technology in societies. It’s not just the leaders but businesses, NGOs, and other sectors that should help uphold good governance in order to minimize the risks.
Some issues in emerging tech include the diverse applications, concerns over new capabilities, the need for public engagement, and effective governance. This is a big deal since tech creates opportunities not just among corporate executives, but in entrepreneurial startups as well. They use cloud, mobile solutions, AI and machine learning, social media, and IoT to help their businesses thrive over the next few years.
When you look at it closely, we are already experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The pandemic made it happen and this time, the expectations lean more towards the improvement of what happened last year at the start of the pandemic. It was chaotic and everything was in a rush. Bridging the digital divide, prioritizing safety of information, and practicing good governance over the use of the available technology can help minimize the chaos from 2020. Slowly but surely, as we ease our way into the post-pandemic world and fully embrace Industry 4.0, we can perfect how we live our digital lifestyle.
The pandemic has been the major disruptor of everything in 2020. The world stopped and suddenly adapted to a setting that no one had the time to prepare for. Lockdowns, working from home, practicing physical distancing, and shutting down social events made people turn into their gadgets for relief and entertainment. Everything has gone online.
Whether it would be for video games, online selling, social media, websites, and other digital content, visual design is relevant now and will still be making waves in the post-pandemic world. Here are some of the reasons why:
Visual design makes the first impression
Compared to written content, it is the graphic design that gets a person’s attention. Creating eye-catching visuals has become the greatest challenge for artists during this time. Since everything is now online, people’s attention span has become even shorter than ever. They can easily browse through what they see on the internet and completely forget those that did not catch their eye.
Everything online is fast-moving and the competition has become more difficult. Businesses have to make a good impression for them to make a mark. Design is the first thing that people see. They notice colors, fonts, unique elements, and other artistic stuff. Together with a good written content which is only secondary, visual design should be the top priority.
Good designs can be used long-term
Designing is a tedious process especially if you want to produce something good. Aside from squeezing the creative juices that designers need to transform their visions and ideas into digital art, you will go through a lot of revisions and will need a keen eye even for the smallest detail. But the good thing about this is that once you get the right look and feel to get your message across, you can use these as templates for your other content. Colors, fonts, and other elements can be used to maintain consistency.
This is useful especially if you are building your brand book and would like to keep the same designs forever, until the time you feel the need to do a rebranding. With the pandemic in mind, most companies and businesses adjusted their design to match the challenging times. They veered away from their usual content to make way for pandemic-related visuals that are more relevant. So until the global health crisis ends, these types of design that help people are here to stay.
Great designs set you apart from competitors
The best part about having great designs is the fact that people start to associate them to your brand or business. As mentioned, your templates can be used for a very long time. There is no need to rebrand frequently and risk losing your identity.
One example of rising above the competition during this time of pandemic is what online sellers do. With people being stuck at home, many ventured into small businesses. Similar products and services came out like mushrooms. Those who invested in nice logos, amazing product photos, and consistent graphic design became more popular faster than others who did not.
High-quality graphics show professionalism
The pandemic has heightened the people’s awareness of what is true and what is not. They can easily tell what website or social media profile to trust based on how their visuals look like. As simple as proper usage of fonts and colors will not escape the scrutiny.
Using the same example of businesses that venture into selling similar products on social media, good graphics can attract customers. It has been proven time and time again that consumers go for products and services that are visually appealing. The more enticing design, the more chances that they will go for it. Other businesses often level up their game by creating simple animations or complex videos.
Having a high-quality design makes a business look credible and trustworthy. Now that most companies have undergone or are currently undergoing digital transformation due to the pandemic, they are most likely to partner with digital experts who show off great designs. In this case, the homepage of a website should be able to capture clients with just one look. Aside from great content, the web design must showcase professionalism.
Design tells the story visually
The popularity of infographics has been on the rise. According to a commentary, the pandemic has accelerated the transition of visual design to be more data-driven. It just doesn’t transform words, thoughts, and ideas into something artistically appealing, it also interprets data and statistics in an easy-to-understand visual. These types of data and information must be accurate and direct to provide people the things they need to know.
Using design to spread hope and optimism
Let us not forget that visual design is a vital tool for communication. Businesses and organizations can easily relay messages and information to people. In fact, there are some social media pages that invest in storytelling using artistic and creative illustrations aimed at showing the brighter side of the internet. Great examples of designing positively in a time of crisis include those that give hope to anxiety-ridden communities, and visual content that comforts and instructs people on what to do at a time like this.
Hope, happiness, and health are the most important things in life right now. Since people are spending most of the time online, seeing optimistic visuals such as bright colors, positive elements, and happy symbolisms can inspire them to hold on despite the scary times. This becomes an advocacy and responsibility for designers, to spread goodness and combat negativity caused by the pandemic.
We all know the importance of visual design in the digital world. The pandemic just highlighted its business value more than ever. But we should not worry because designers are creative problem solvers. It is in their nature to present artistic solutions to different challenges such as the effects of the pandemic. Visual design has the biggest role to play and can make a huge impact during this time and beyond.
Remote work has been on the rise even before the pandemic last year. Freelancing and the gig economy were already doing well. The flexibility in terms of location and working hours was the initial advantage that attracted the younger generation to go for this kind of work setup. Of course, it was also because of the technology that made working remotely possible. The pandemic only made its existence more pronounced and mandatory at the start of 2020.
The pandemic changed the structure of office work
This experience of working from home made office workers realize a lot of things. They noticed how more productive they are at home than when they were at the office. The positive effects of working at home may bring about the need for a “hybrid” working environment for office workers, where they will rotate the schedules of working in the office and working from anywhere.
Some smaller companies might even push for permanent remote work and completely forget the idea of having an office space. This decision will be based on whether remote work already has the capacity to provide their business needs without having to meet face-to-face. This will then increase their chances of improving their workforce by hiring global talents.
The pandemic changed the landscape of remote work
This unforeseen boom in remote work is seen as a challenge for existing remote companies. With most businesses now offering opportunities to work from anywhere in the world, the competition starts with the attraction and retention of global talents. Of course, this is done virtually and everyone is upping their game. There are worldwide options now and the challenge is to keep up with the trends.
The pandemic changed the future of jobs
The pandemic has changed the office environment and remote work. Homeowners now require a dedicated room in their houses for home office space. As for the jobseekers, the challenge lies in their ability to upskill and learn to work with technology on their own. Job applications have become more difficult. It is harder to infiltrate their target job vacancy because of the wider competition with candidates from all over the world.
One of the most valuable assets of remote work is culture. With time zone differences, language barriers, variety of beliefs, and country-based traditions, remote work teams should be able to create a culture that encourages unity and celebrates diversity. The challenge is to build a harmonious working environment and healthy engagement among a global workforce. Camaraderie plays a big part in achieving business objectives within a remote team. Take note that this is done virtually in a digital workspace.
Aside from the global competition in hiring, the rise of AI can also mean that some jobs might become obsolete in the near future. Previous job positions can be replaced by artificial intelligence and this will decrease the opportunities for the jobseeker. To keep up with the changes, this will then push employees to let go of irrelevant skills and learn new skills altogether.
Remote work is here to stay, not just because of the pandemic. It’s well on its way to become the future of work and the pandemic was just an early declaration. What happened in 2020 strengthened and accelerated the boom. Companies and businesses learned the ways of working at home and realized that remote work is indeed something that can be done. The barrier between office environment and remote setup was broken. Global talents are now being recognized. Flexibility and collaboration through technology is widely accepted. It’s not just the working environment that needs to change, even the employees need to adapt to survive. And this is just the beginning of a bright future of work ahead of us.
Finally, 2020 is about to end, the year when the world began to embrace changes. Looking back at the past months since the pandemic emerged, we have seen how countries and governments responded and how people reacted. Simply surviving the year through different strategies is already a great achievement.
For us, the Digiters, that is what we consider our greatest success this year. Like everyone else, we have spent a challenging year at our homes with our families embracing the changes, thinking positive, adapting to the new normal, brainstorming on how we can change and improve ourselves and our services to help our clients and partners survive and succeed during the pandemic times. We’ve rethought of how we could transform the future together to a world where we can maximise the use of technology while prioritising human wellbeing and human experiences.
Despite all the hard times, we are happy to have grown our amazing team this year, as we continue to be advocates of remote work. We are more than grateful to God and to you for our projects, partnerships, and our stronger online presence. Like bamboo stalks huddled together, we swayed but never snapped. We have been hit but didn’t give up. We might have fallen down but we rise up again stronger than ever, fully committed and motivated by our mission to contribute to build the Future of Work by giving endless opportunities to work harmoniously anytime, anywhere, and by our vision to be the world’s most trusted platform for remote-based consultants by making our knowledge, passion, skills and talents universally accessible and affordable to as many organizations as possible.
As we enter 2021, let us carry with us our precious learnings, our renewed strength, and our impact-driven motivation to be resilient and face the unexpected tomorrow.
From the Digiters, we wish all of you and your loved ones a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year.
The World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit happened last October 20-23, 2020.
Day 2 was all about work, wages, and job creation which we found very interesting and timely. At the first quarter of this year, the coronavirus pandemic directly affected the workforce sector when jobs suddenly transitioned to a remote environment.
The sessions and panel discussions really delved into the conversations about the future of jobs, setting new standards for working in the new normal, and building a more human-centric work culture despite going digital and virtual. The speakers also talked about how the workforce sector will rise up even after the pandemic.
Women are the most affected
In one of the sessions, the panel discussion led by WEF Managing Director Saadia Zahidi focused on the pandemic-related job loss that happened worldwide. A lot of businesses and companies closed down due to the effects of the health scare, and the most affected are women.
In many countries, women are regarded as caregivers of the family. With the schools shutting down and family members on lockdown, working women were forced to stay at home and take care of everybody. With the entire duration of the pandemic extending to nearly a year, it might be difficult for them to return to work. A possible scenario that could happen is when the office becomes a place only for men.
The essentials for resetting the future of work
In another one of the sessions, Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, talked about the 5 imperatives for resetting the future of work. It includes transforming organization design and work design, aligning new technology and skills, building human-centric leadership culture, cultivating health and wellbeing, and embracing stakeholder capitalism.
These should be done by corporations and government institutions as their role in this situation and beyond. We’ve learned that these are the most important things needed in the preparation for the future of work. These are the drivers of the much needed jobs reset to match the new normal.
Technology is transforming us
In another thought-provoking session, Harshvendra Soin, Global Chief People Officer and Head of Marketing at Mahindra Group, explained why the new normal should be called the now normal.
The pandemic led us to find an alternative workforce through remote workers. Working remotely means getting to use new and existing technologies to manage communications and speed up everything we do in the virtual world.
With this change, in today’s meaning of digital transformation, we, as humans, are the ones being transformed by technology. Using these technologies will be the key to success in the jobs of the future.
In time for the summit, Saadia Zahidi, the World Economic Forum’s Managing Director and Head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society, said that this event is an effort to leverage the effects of the COVID-19 health crisis. She believes that we can turn the pandemic into an opportunity for more work.
Effect of the pandemic
The pandemic has disrupted everything this year including global economies, world markets, and jobs. It is believed that the need for digital transformation and tech adoption will continue to increase. As the industries adapt and evolve, we would see that the changes are not only on the working setup from office to remote, but also with the nature of the tasks.
A lot of employees around the world have been displaced due to the combined effects of the health crisis, its repercussions on the economy, and the continuing rise of technology. Because of this, available job opportunities are not that many compared to the pre-pandemic times.
The future of work
The challenge now is how we can turn this disruption around and make it into something positive for workers. Though job opportunities will come from business decisions, it is still up to the employees if they want to prepare themselves for the future of work.
According to Zahidi, there is a need for reskilling and upskilling especially during this time of lockdowns and displacements. Reskilling involves training on an entirely new set of skills for a different role. Upskilling, on the other hand, means improving on the existing skills and deepening knowledge or abilities within the area of expertise for a similar role.
A study of the World Economic Forum suggests that by 2025, humans and tech will share tasks. In preparation for this, most companies and businesses believe that their current employees need reskilling and upskilling. But no matter the need for upgrading skills, the top priority right now is to understand the changes in the working environment. As mentioned earlier, the nature of the task itself will change. Currently, there are already obvious changes in how we do things or what we call as the new normal.
The biggest upskilling or reskilling that employees need first is for remote work. This is especially necessary for those who are used to office-based jobs. The sudden mandatory work-from-home setup at the start of the year due to the lockdowns are not enough to introduce employees to this new working environment. They still need the proper training, reskilling for the use of remote work tools, and upskilling for their current tasks to match the needs of the new normal.
Watch the sessions we selected for you on the Future of Work from the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit 2020.