The steam engine and coal. The blast engine, electricity and petroleum. Atomic energy, astronautics and computing. Industrial revolutions of the past centuries that have profoundly shaped the transformation of our cities, production processes, social organization and basically the setting of the whole planet, are leaving the scene to a new era.
If the complexity of past changes has often been understood and theorized just afterwards, the epochal change we are witnessing, called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, brings with it an inevitable and complex break with the past, but it grants us the privilege to be recognized and addressed in advance.
Digital technology has already profoundly influenced the nature of the products that companies propose, transforming their interaction with the markets and completely redesigning their internal functioning. Those who embrace digital technology have the opportunity to leave an important mark, innovate and guide the business strategy of their company. There is a long list of casualties among companies that have not been able to see the arrival of this transformation: the Kodak camera company and the DVD Blockbusters rental store, to name just two. Even Microsoft joined late the cloud computing, paralyzed by an ostracism inside the company.
Industry 4.0, a term coined by the Germans Henning Kagermann, Wolf-Dieter Lukas and Wolfgang Wahlster, and first employed at the 2011 Hannover Fair, indicates the process that will lead to fully automated and interconnected industrial production. For many companies, the real keystone will be the introduction of a complete cultural shift, needed for comprehensive and intelligent digitization. The real bearers of this change will be the professionals and talents able to understand and manage digital technology, transforming it into business opportunities. Talents, these, for which companies will have to compete, not just from an economic point of view.
The change that companies are facing also touches operational pillars such as project management, which nowadays presupposes a contact with the digital world, often hindered by the backgrounds and competences of the same project managers. The main skills a digital project manager must possess is well beyond cost tracking and project phases. Technical skills related to HTML / CSS and FTP, content management and editing, familiarity with CMS and social media. But also the in-depth knowledge of analysis tools. Knowing how to use Google Analytics is not the same as understanding data and translating the reporting into inputs useful to a company’s design and production processes.
In addition to the traditional functions of a company involved in the transition to industry 4.0, there are many novelties that the digital inserts into the production processes, and more widely in society. The development of robotics and artificial intelligence is no longer a matter of discussion about the future, but a rapidly evolving reality. We are no longer wondering whether or when artificial intelligence will make obsolete a large part of the manners now carried out by humans, but how to handle this inevitable reality and the new professions it will bring to the fore. The role of human professionals specializing in the control of these and other technologies will be crucial, and they will soon become part of our daily life.
The other fundamental aspect on which every company 4.0 is based is security, which should be thought of as a global and preventive approach, but above all inseparable from digital transformation. Companies that do not invest in digitization are going to disappear in the medium term, as well as those companies that embrace digital transformation but don’t give the right importance to security. A theme, that of Cybersecurity, which is not fully understood by companies. According to a Bank of Italy survey, only 1.5% of companies have developed adequate security measures, while 30.3% of companies have reported a hacker-related harm.
“It’s not the strongest or the smartest species to survive, but the one that deals better with change,” Charles Darwin said. To anticipate, embrace and exploit the evolution brought by technological innovation is the key to surviving and succeeding in a world where it is expected that at least 40% of current businesses will disappear in the next 10 years.
Digital transformation requires a continuous training strategy. Businesses need to anticipate and implement a necessary and progressive digital literacy of existing employees in the company and at the same time focus on the talents that are being formed in the management of new technologies.
The Bologna Business School offers a path dedicated to prospective professionals: The Master in Digital Technology Management is a full-time English language program with three specific addresses: Artificial Intelligence, Digital Project Management and Cyber Security. An opportunity to match a purely technical background with managerial training and bring innovation to the core of business decisions.
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