COVID 19 and all that
I don’t want to be the Cassandra who brings bad news, but this is not over. In fact, it will never be over. I think we are transitioning.
Through this blog I’ve shared some of my exploration of the fourth industrial revolution, what we will experience and what technologies will drive it. When we look back at this time, we will see this as the moment the old world ended, and the new world began. Of course, there were hints of what was to come that happened before now, and there will be vestiges of the old world carried forward – but this is the moment we will talk about. It will be like we mark the start of the jet age by referring to the end of the second world war.
It’s in the news
The headlines in the papers have been about: job losses; social distancing; and remote working. We are seeing a drop in demand, an increase in cost to serve and reduction in capacity and competition. This must lead to increased prices and suppressed demand. The consequence of this is inflation of real-prices that will drive out the old ways and encourage emergence of new ways of doing business with lower structural costs that will create new ways to consume.
Innovation will be required
Every sector will be affected and the only way to respond is through systematic commercialisation of innovation. The future may be unpredictable, but the direction is clear. What will your strategy be?
FT stories today
Today’s FT had two stories that I think are indicators of the future:
The future of manufacturing
This one: https://www.ft.com/content/5610b913-d763-4d5f-a7cd-c51ff7adde21 tells of BAE communicating with it’s supply base that it intends that the Tempest fighter will be 50% assembled by robots and 30% of the components will be 3D printed.
How long will it be until we can have a general factory which can assemble anything using software and downloaded designs? In 50 years will we have one in every town? Every home? What will that mean to distribution, logistics and manufacture? How can you have international trade? How can you secure intellectual property? How will you distribute wealth?
The future of information and society
Then there is another story today: https://www.ft.com/content/b13ff98d-ffcb-4cfc-a853-3ba2cb75e717 Where Wolfgang Munchau argues that COVID-19 has marked the end of the analogue age.
He makes a clear case for the use of direct real-time monitoring of digital data and how we can compile and use this information to guide our actions. He talks about central government’s role in disseminating information (like inflation), and the use of drones to reshape our military.
If you’ve not read them already – here are a couple of blog posts that explored my thinking around this topic.
October 2018 – Self driving cars and tech-tipping points: https://bestemnetwork.com/2018/10/10/self-driving-and-the-digital-avalanche/
June 2018 – Elon Must and the reinvention of manufacturing: https://bestemnetwork.com/2018/06/11/the-fourth-musketeer/
May 2018 – Ocado and the reinvention of logistics: https://bestemnetwork.com/2018/05/09/ocado-wheres-my-avocado/
May 2018 – Four Grand Challenges – the (re) emergence of british industrial strategy: https://bestemnetwork.com/2018/05/22/four-grand-challenges/
July 2017 – Automation Risks. Automation itself poses a new risk to operations that needs to be managed seperately: https://bestemnetwork.com/2017/07/07/automation-risk/
May 2017 – Technologies driving change in upstream oil and gas, their implications and impact https://bestemnetwork.com/2017/05/31/4th-wave-value-upstream-oil-and-gas/
March 2016 – Primer for the 4th industrial revolution, what technologies are driving it and it’s wider implications for industrial society. https://bestemnetwork.com/2016/03/29/innovation-and-productivity-with-4th-industrial-revolution/