In the 1700s, the First Industrial Revolution made many manual labour tasks redundant. Then, during the Second Industrial Revolution the advances in manufacturing and production technology enabled the adoption of telegraph and rail networks, and water and energy supply. This allowed an unprecedented movement of people that brought with it a new wave of globalisation.
By the mid-20th century, the rise of computer technology heralded the arrival of the Third Industrial Revolution (or Digital Revolution), which brought enormous wealth and prosperity to people around the world.
In each case, the arrival of a new wave of technological advancement acted as a catalyst not only for economic and social prosperity, but for the development of new, more advanced technology.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the pillars of what people are already referring to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, defined as the interplay between automation and data exchange and analysis, especially in manufacturing technologies.
Its arrival has sparked new fears – especially among blue collar workers – that machines will replace humans in a range of industries. However, as with the previous three ‘revolutions’, the true benefit of this new wave of technological advancement is the accelerated development of humanity as a whole.
IoT will bring unprecedented efficiency and convenience to the daily lives of citizens, workers and businesspeople by marrying data and analysis in real-time. Entirely new industries requiring as-yet unknown skills will rise, bringing new prosperity to countries and individuals. Some estimates state that IoT alone will in a few decades contribute an amount to the global economy equal to the entire GDP of the United States.
Smart Cities will create a more positive and efficient experience for all citizens; manufacturers will reach new levels of productivity as equipment down-time is reduced to zero; retailers will use IoT to bring value and convenience to shoppers; driverless vehicles will make the roads safer by reducing human error; and our food supply will become more secure as sensors feed valuable information to farmers in real time, allowing optimal crop growth.
At the centre of all of this sits us, humans. As IoT becomes more pervasive around the world, it is not only the manufacturers of sensors or the developers of systems linked to the connected devices that will prosper. IoT has the power to be truly transformational and help chart a course for humanity that will ensure its prosperity for generations to come.