The third industrial revolution
The first industrial revolution began in Britain in the late 18th century, with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Tasks previously done laboriously by hand in hundreds of weavers’ cottages were brought together in a single cotton mill, and the factory was born. The second industrial revolution came in the early 20th century, when Henry Ford mastered the moving assembly line and ushered in the age of mass production. The first two industrial revolutions made people richer and more urban. Now a third revolution is under way. Manufacturing is going digital. This will change not just business, but much else besides.
We are at the dawn of the third industrial revolution, where exponential technologies will be combined to solve big challenges.
A number of remarkable technologies are converging: clever software, novel materials, more dexterous robots, new processes (notably three-dimensional printing) and a whole range of web-based services. The factory of the past was based on cranking out billions of identical products: Ford famously said that car-buyers could have any colour they liked, as long as it was black. But the cost of producing much smaller batches of a wider variety, with each product tailored precisely to each customer’s whims, is falling. The factory of the future will focus on mass customisation—and may look more like those weavers’ cottages than Ford’s assembly line.
Whole industries are being transformed by the deployment of these innovative technologies. We are about to see explosive change resulting in innovations such as autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, vertical farming and a whole host of other advances. We anticipate that this will have a major impact on our day-to-day lives. However, it’s hard to identify the innovations and even more difficult to identify when and how to deploy.
We are constantly tracking technologies through our own eco-system of early stage technology businesses, university incubators and accelerators. We have a network of over 5,000 technology startups focused on a wide range of technologies including;
- Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data
- Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality
- Internet of things
- Blockchain and Smart Contracts
- Cyber Security
We are firm believers that engagement with technology through the startup eco-system is the most effective way for corporates to avoid being disrupted.