Opinion

The Prospect of 4IR In Africa for Business Owners

4IR - cfamedia

Many small business owners and entrepreneurs may not have considered looking into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or, 4IR.

The reason is not far-fetched, from the thoughts that, the 4IR is, only meant for the bigger business enterprises.

This new wave of technology, however, appears to be, irresistibly, moving forward and small businesses would, eventually, must embrace it.

Here is a summary, of the industrial revolution timeline:

The first revolution spanned across the tail end of the 18th century, to the beginning of the 19th century.

Basically, this period, witnessed mechanisation, taking its place in the foundations of the society’s structure, with a massive extraction of coal and inventions.

Mass extraction of coal, along with the invention of the steam engine, creating a new type of energy, occurred, during this period.

The second industrial revolution, came towards the end of the 19th century, with the emergence of new energy sources, from electricity, oil and gas.

The period, also, witnessed the development of the combustion engine and the expansion of the steel industry.

Then, came the third industrial revolution, with the emergence of a new type of energy, (nuclear power) and the introduction of computers and telecommunications.

Now the fourth industrial revolution has come forth, with technology, combining the digital, physical and biological spheres, to revolutionalise industries, all over the world.

With changes in production management and the system of governance, this latest industrial revolution would change the entire narrative, of many concepts, especially, business.

With quick advances in software development and connectivity, 4IR has bridged the gap, with the third industrial revolution and it promises higher productivity and lowers costs.

Let us see how the 4IR, would benefit small businesses, on the African continent:

Freedom From Manual Work

Before any of the industrial revolutions, man has been engaged, in energy-sapping, manual work, but the revolutions, have, since, changed this narrative. 4IR, also, is not left out, in this trend.

This, however, does not translate to having fewer jobs, but the focus of a tedious work routine will be meant for machines.

For instance, a chatbot, powered by AI, on your website, can handle the usual customer requests, complaints and other queries.

With this, people would be able to focus better, on creating a strategy and problem-solving processes.

With applications, from the 4IR, small businesses can scale, with their newfound focus.

Affordability

4IR, makes technology more affordable, for small businesses.

Robotics and 3D printers are getting high demand in the market and this has enabled small businesses, to produce customised products.

This has given small businesses an edge, to favorably compete, with larger corporations.

Take a case of the cloud computing, prior to its advent, a small business, could not afford expensive software applications, for data processing and the likes, but the cloud has made life much easier, for smaller enterprises.

The belief is that the fourth industrial revolution, will continue to present bigger opportunities, for small businesses.

Small businesses, need to keep up with the changes, coming on board, by retraining their employees, on how 4IR can affect the company’s business.

The new trend, in the African business enterprise, these days, ought to be an investment in skills that would enhance workers, to easily, embrace concepts, like AI and AR.

We are just at the early stage of a transformation that would, inevitably, take over, so, the earlier we start adopting these, the better our chance of survival, when it fully comes on stream.

Also check, Tech Trends on “Young Nigerians Should Be Prepared For Jobs Coming With The 4th Industrial Revolution – Uki Dare”


Featured Image: Polity.org.za


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