4th Industrial Revolution

How technology has changed our workplace and work behaviours over the last 300 years leading to 4th Industrial Revolution (IR 4) [1].

It’s difficult to believe that about 300 years ago people used to provide majority of things for themselves – we grew and made our own food and used animals for demanding jobs. We used our creativity and handcraft skills to produce shoes and clothes.

1st Industrial Revolution

The First Industrial Revolution began in the 18th century with invention of industrial use of steam power. This mechanisation of production has changed the world. Home production of goods have been transferred to factories powered by steam engines, which were fuelled by coal and oil. This, in turn, increased human productivity and work standardisation. People began to move from farms to cities. Growth of textile industry and the international trade was possible due to development of rail and maritime routes. The new forms of transportation meant that goods and people could move greater distances in fewer hours.

2nd Industrial Revolution

The Second Industrial Revolution began in the 19th century following the discovery of electricity and assembly line production. This era saw mass migration of people from farms to cities. Other inventions like the telegraph allowed people to communicate from distant location and keep in touch.

3rd Industrial Revolution

The Third Industrial Revolution began in the ’70s through development of both: mainframe and personal computers as well as the Internet. Partial automation using controls and computers allowed further productivity increase. Since the introduction of these technologies, it was now possible to automate an entire production process without human assistance.

4th Industrial Revolution

We now stand at the brink of Fourth Industrial Revolution, which brings together digital, physical and biological systems: Energy connected through integrated grid, Interconnected autonomous vehicles and sustainable agriculture. We started replacing plastics with parts made of natural organisms. This innovation has a potential to change not just what or how we are doing things – it changes us. This technology is used to improve human lives – machines can augment human body in various ways, for example: using electrical stabilisers, stem cells and 3D printing. We have learned how to regrow a living bone and implant it in a human body. All changes and innovations are happening at incredibly fast pace and still accelerating.


21st century requires a different, more human leadership. We need leaders who are emotionally intelligent and able to model and champion co-operative working. They’ll coach, rather than command, they’ll be driven by empathy, not ego. That’s the importance of soft skills in 21st century according to professor Klaus Schwab – Chairman of World Economic Forum [2].


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpW9JcWxKq0
  2. weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond/

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