Sep 25, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

Steam and water power, electricity and manufacturing, and computerization. Each of these advancements transformed the world and how humans live in it. Now, many are heralding the arrival of the fourth industrial revolution, or “Industry 4.0.” Described by NetworkWorld as “a digital transformation applied to manufacturing -- bringing with it all the change, opportunities and challenges that represents,” Industry 4.0 represents mankind’s next giant step forward. Will you be leading the way?

Here’s a closer look at the red-hot area of digital technology, along with how you can position yourself to be at its forefront.

About Digital Technology

CEO of Bangalore-based IT company Mphasis, Nitin Rakesh, recently said in a podcast on the digital transformation and Industry 4.0, “A congruence of many independent technologies that were on their own exponential paths — whether it’s semiconductors, cellphones or the ability to write software — came together when the iPhone was ‘discovered.’ Look at what is happening in genetics and genome mapping. Look at what is happening in solar power and the exponentiality that is brought into these options. The other thing about this exponential curve is that the capabilities rise exponentially and the price declines exponentially, because they go hand in hand. That has led to the congruence of all of these technologies around robotics, genetics, the ability of chips and microprocessors and nanotechnology.”

The takeaway is clear for businesses looking to survive. Deloitte says, “Around the world, traditional manufacturing industry is in the throes of a digital transformation that is accelerated by exponentially growing technologies (e.g., intelligent robots, autonomous drones, sensors, 3D printing.). Companies and their industrial processes need to adapt to this rapid change if they are not to be left behind by developments in their sector and by their competitors.”

And, of course, the ability to adjust relies on one thing above all else: employees with the knowledge and skills to navigate the new digital world.

“Racing With the Machine”

If you are looking for job security, look no further than digital tech. While some people fear that the rise of machines will mean fewer jobs for humans, many experts and scholars say otherwise. Certainly, the job market will change and some areas of employment may indeed become obsolete moving forward. At the same time, however, new opportunities will arise.

According to an analysis of thought leadership on the topic by ANZ Banking Group Lead Business Analyst, Nima Momeni, “Technology does progress rapidly and wealth is created but there is no guarantee everyone will benefit; therefore as [Erik] Brynjolfsson suggests, it would be better to race with the machine rather than against it. Smart machines are not perfect and teamwork could be the future workplace model. The engineering skills to design, program, enhance and override machines will be the most valuable skills.”

But working in digital technology isn’t just putting in hours; it’s putting in hours toward a uniquely exciting and meaningful end. Workers in the field have the true potential to break ground and shift the world. The promise of high earnings aside, the thrilling nature of contributing to this problem-solving growth culture is a priceless opportunity.

Three Digital Tech Tracts

Momeni also reinforces the importance education will play in facilitating the best “teamwork” between man and machine. Some schools are already ahead of the game with programs aimed at producing the next generation of digital technology leaders.

Take Bologna Business School’s three-track Master in Digital Technology Management program. These highly specialized pathways in artificial intelligence, cyber security and digital technology management, are designed to help students recognize and exploit the business opportunities available through technological innovation.

During the first half of this full-time, 12-month program, students are immersed in the fundamentals of management as applied to digital technology, with coursework including everything from data visualization and enterprise software architecture to fieldwork laboratory and next generation ICT for companies.

During the second term, the curriculum moves on to track-specific practical aspects. Throughout the program, a number of different teaching approaches are employed to help students grasp key concepts, including lectures and seminars; group projects and company visits; guest speakers and case studies; videos and presentations; and individual assignments and assisted private studying.

The program concludes with a 500-hour internship period during which students gain the chance to put newly acquired theory and techniques into practice while learning directly from professionals in their sector. 

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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