The fourth industrial revolution is defining the new boundaries of prosperity, the future of work, and the policies that will lay the foundation for how companies compete and trade in the future. As illustrated above, there are 17 distinct pillars of technology that are working simultaneously to bring together the digital, physical, and virtual worlds. The results of that colossal collision include:

  • Unparalleled growth in efficiency and productivity
  • A resetting of the competitive landscape at a scale never seen before
  • The introduction of smart products and new service models
  • The creation of the next generation of operational excellence
  • Smart automation, complete connectivity, and true alignment across the value chain

 We recently entered the second wave—a shift that is fundamentally altering every aspect of business, the global economy, and ecosystems across all industries. AI is just now beginning to deliver unparalleled opportunities for growth and productivity, and these opportunities are quickly resetting the competitive landscape. Companies are using AI to redefine smart products and service models, create the next generation of operational excellence of automation and connectivity, and refine alignment across the value chain.

The early adopters of AI are already reaping real-life benefits. This makes it more urgent than ever for others to accelerate their digital transformations. The latest emerging and disruptive trends focus on everything from the AI economy to RPA, and deep learning to machine learning. The possibilities seem nearly endless in scope and applicability:

The AI investment is growing fast, dominated by digital giants who are spending in the ballpark of $35 Billion annually on AI, with 90% of this amount being dedicated to R&D and deployment, and the remaining 10% on AI acquisitions. Venture Capital and Private Equity financing is growing rapidly, with a combined total of around $14 Billion annually. Plus, industry adoption outside the tech sector is growing exponentially, and these non-tech companies currently have the most aggressive intentions when it comes to investing in AI. Adoption is broad and deep, largely because it is becoming well understood that AI can deliver real value to serious adopters and, perhaps most importantly, can be a powerful force for disruption.

Today, companies simply cannot delay advancing their AI digital journeys. Early adopters are already creating competitive advantages, and the gap between the leaders and the laggards is growing fast. A successful program requires companies to rethink their approach to information and data management as they move from historical to real-time data management, build ecosystems, and invest in workflow, smart automation capabilities, and culture.

AI is at the eye of the storm, and it is creating a shift unlike anything we have seen before. For investors, it’s clear that the breadth and depth of this change brings with it an investment opportunity nearly as massive as Industry 4.0 itself. By investing in each wave as it becomes available, investors will find themselves perfectly positioned on the ground floor of each of the waves that follows. Because companies must adopt each new technology to build and retain their competitiveness, every building block of every wave is a requirement for the next.

In Henrik’s words, “holy smokes!” Holy smokes, indeed. Today, few people grasp just how massive this storm will be. But there is no doubt: the perfect storm is brewing, and when it comes ashore, the changes it will bring are sure to surprise every one of us. Those who know that change is coming and invest in the early stages of each wave will be the ones who stand to reap the greatest benefits in its wake.

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