Technology | 4IR

The impact of the fourth industrial revolution on SMEs

Words by Alex Matheson
The impact of the fourth industrial revolution on SMEs

You might have heard the term ‘fourth industrial revolution’ or seen the acronym 4IR, you might have seen reference to Industry 4.0. While these terms and concepts could seem daunting to a small to medium enterprise owner, the opportunities that come with 4IR technology are too important to miss. 

For a lot of small to medium business owners, balancing running your business and growing your business means passing up on new technology that might help you in the long run. The barriers for entry are often the same; high cost, no time for training, lack of experience. A major part of Atlas’ philosophy is educating people so they can understand how these barriers can be eliminated or are less solid than you might have previously thought.

In this article, we’ll discuss what 4IR means, what technologies are emerging from it and how you can make the most out of it. We want everyone to benefit from the technological advances of now and the future, and part of that is making sure people have a firm understanding of what they are and how they can access them in a way that makes sense for their business.

What is the fourth Industrial Revolution?

4IR refers to the combining of emergent technologies that come together to blur the lines between the physical and digital world. Technologies such as:

  • Automation
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • Big-data
  • sensor technology

With augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) being merged with the internet of things (IoT) devices, previously disparate worlds of physical materials and machines become accessible in virtual spaces. 

Perhaps that sounds beyond the grasp of most companies, but with every advance made in these technologies, they become more accessible, more affordable and more important. There is an aspect of 4IR technology that will touch every business regardless of the size.

VR technology can be used in many different ways, from more engaging teleconferencing through to designing intricate components in a virtual space. Augmented reality (AR) enables designers and engineers to take physical objects and modify them without ever committing physical resources.

Automation is becoming commonplace now and, with proper implementation, allows the people in your business more time to innovate, rather than tying them to easily repeatable, mundane tasks. With proper software integration you can take the busy work out of their work.