What the 4th industrial revolution is about

Written by Matto Giobbe

The fast pace at which tech market is developing is stunning. In the latest years, fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things and autonomous vehicles gained a central role in the world wide scenario. Big Tech companies started investing heavily in innovative start-ups, expanding their businesses into the artificial intelligence market. Alphabet Inc. launched its venture capital found GV (formerly Google Ventures) in 2009, aiming to provide the right tools to support the growth of promising technology companies. Microsoft did the same in 2016, founding Microsoft Ventures. AI, robotics and IoT are markets that could, and probably will, worth billions of dollar and Tech Giants are fighting to obtain the most innovative start-ups in order to play the game as first movers. 

Market growth
The worldwide revenues for cognitive and artificial intelligence will reach $12.5 billion in 2017, according to the forecasts from International Data Corporation (IDC). With an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54.4% through 2020, Tech Giants are willing to continue the aggressive acquisition strategy shown in 2016, when at least 40 AI start-ups were assimilated. Expected revenues for 2020 should exceed $46 billion, which makes the market even more appealing for investors. 

The automotive sector took a step ahead in this direction. Driverless cars represent a huge driver for these investments, creating a flourishing environment where tech companies want to compete. NVIDIA and Waymo are investing in autonomous driving solutions as well as Tesla and Uber. Almost 20% of NVIDIA’s revenue came from its data center and auto segments in the last quarter.
Although the automotive sector held the largest media exposure, the potential of growth of AI in the next years it seems that will be related to the consumer services’ industry. 

Help your business become “customer-obsessed”
The adoption of natural language processing is gaining a central role in this sector, especially in retail. Online shopping is providing a huge amount of data to work on, and AI is a great instrument to perform a finer consumer experience. “Understanding things like social profiles, movement, weather, and behaviour, AI can help marketers understand at a more granular level what consumers want and need” is how IBM’s first CMO, Michelle Peluso, thinks AI could reshape markets.
Forrester predicts that customer data driven projects will increase by 75% in 2017 and one third of companies are willing to introduce big data solutions in the next year. In order to accelerate the digitization of their business processes, companies must reinvent their business model, providing tools that could support the shift into the digital era.

Customer service is now very critical in the long-term success of businesses. Amazon pursue one of the best example of this trend, structuring a customer-based service that is built on the customer Journey. Just think about a service such as Amazon Go or a product like Amazon Echo. The first envision a convenience store without checkout lines, the latter your personal intelligent assistant. Both aim to get closer to the customers, responding to their needs in an efficiently and smart way.
Technologies will help chase this goal. Companies have been introducing big data tools to provide customer journey analytics and perform a better segmentation, achieving better performance thanks to their abilities to make smarter decisions and improve strategic planning. 

AI potential
The potential for AI is limitless and runs across almost all the industries. The next 20 years could drastically change the way we approach life. Start-up like Banjo, could literally change the way we see the world. The objective of the company is to build the first world’s “crystal ball”. In an era where we are constantly overwhelmed by information and content, just imagine a tool able to “instantly collect and organize the world’s social and digital signals, giving an unprecedented level of understanding of what is happening anywhere in the world, in real time”. And it was just to mention one.

IDC is also forecasting that education will see huge growth in AI spending over the next years. In order to keep the pace with the job market, education system should provide the new competencies that will be required to support the growth of AI. Computer programming will gain a prominent role, which means that the job market will be redesigned for engineering and coder positions. 
IT skills will be necessary to keep up with the technology development, but the game is in the hands of educational institutions that bear the responsibility to infuse the knowledge required to perform the jobs of the future.