World Economic Forum Examines Workplace Revolution That Leaves Few Industries Unchanged
Previously, we shared a roundup of the overwhelming compilation of insightful infographics from the World Economic Forum. That was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The global dialogue of systemic change may face consumer apprehension—especially as the domino effect of China’s economic slowdown plays out on the world stage—but this disruption that is already underway.
The Future of Jobs Global Challenge Insight Report at the World Economic Forum summarized just how nine different industries will transform and the effects on 13 million global employees:
“In many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations or specialties did not exist 10 or even five years ago, and the pace of change is set to accelerate. By one popular estimate, 65 percent of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist,” said the report.
Industries including sales, transport, logistics, mathematics, science, and architecture are set to boom while jobs in construction, management, business, legal, and financial services are slated for stability during this shift.
“According to many industry observers, we are today on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution. Developments in previously disjointed fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and genetics and biotechnology are all building on and amplifying one another. Smart systems—homes, factories, farms, grids or entire cities—will help tackle problems ranging from supply chain management to climate change,” the report also stated.
“Concurrent to this technological revolution are a set of broader socio-economic, geopolitical, and demographic developments, each interacting in multiple directions and intensifying each other.”
Mobile internet, cloud technology, affordable computing power, and Big Data are all technological short-term drivers of these impacts. Today, we take a closer look at how the interconnected nature of sustainability, logistics, and healthcare will adapt and thrive in the wake of the global revolution.
The Critical Nature of Disruption
As TechCrunch has pointed out, tech keynotes at World Economic Forum were from Microsoft, SAP, IBM—even Uber’s Travis Kalanick for a healthy dose of disruptive measure—and other innovative companies are guiding forum attendees through this conversation with their own explanations of The Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The bottom line: great opportunities lie ahead in terms of shaking up how we consider solutions to global issues and collaborating to adapt to change.
Looking back, the first Industrial Revolution of the 18th century was fueled by water and steam-powered machines. The second: electrical power in the 20th century. And the third revolution began with the digitalization of manufacturing throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
So what are some specific implications of our world’s Fourth Industrial Revolution?
Renewable Energy and Looming Concerns
The spotlight on renewable energy at the World Economic Forum was a glimpse at the post-oil future. In the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs report, “climate change, natural resource constraints, and the transition to a greener economy” are cited as key drivers of demographic and socio-economic change.
Amidst oversupply and falling oil prices, Middle Eastern leaders, including the United Arab Emirates’ energy minister met before the Davos summit to reimagine how non-oil industries’ role will shape the region’s future GDP diversification.
“We need innovation in our economies…and we have to look at how we allow innovation in our economy,” explained the Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Acting Oil Minister of Kuwait, and Gulf Cooperation Council Minister Anas Khalid Al Saleh. “In my mind, this period is a blessing in disguise. I think it was Mr. (Winston) Churchill who said ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’. I think it is an unprecedented opportunity for reform.”
With innovation and investment, global costs of renewable energy fall. The World Economic Forum has clearly established a need for policy to balance the objectives in an energy architecture triangle: “security and accessibility, short- and medium-term affordability, and environmental sustainability.”
And a circular economy could shift more value into wasted resources that have potential to be renewable. The exploitation of “waste” leaves the global economy with many opportunities. It’s not just energy, it’s dramatic shifts in lifestyle and logistics.
The circular economy would call to action wasted capacities in property or assets that could find a
market: the 60 percent of Europe’s truck capacity that sits empty for the majority of the time is a prime example.
Sustainable solutions like cradle-to-cradle practices, improved long-term energy sourcing could turn the logistics and transportation industries upside down. Additionally, analytics and increased use of new technologies in the sharing economy could revolutionize supply and demand management.
As new ways of visualizing world trade emerge, the world can conceptualize changes in trade, patterns over time, and identify opportunities for growth. Take Harvard’s Center for International Development’s The Globe of Economic Complexity, for example. It can capture $15 trillion in world trade data in revolutionary 3D renderings:
“The Globe allows users to see which parts of the world are still exporting agricultural commodities versus those that have moved onto machinery and more complex products, all in spectacular animation. Innovations in visualizations like this one help us disseminate our research on how countries grow in an ever more accessible and powerful way,” explained executive director of CID Marcela Escobari.
The World Economic Forum’s strategic Global Agenda Council on the Future Logistics and Supply Chains strives to raise awareness regarding trade facilitation, sustainability, responses to supply chain disruptions, and identifying supply chain tools to promote efficiency in risk management.
An agreement for consignment level carbon reporting guidelines is “a practical step forward for our industry in working with customers to move towards low-carbon supply chains,” DHL CEO Frank Appel says.
The Global Fund
Global Fund is the world’s largest public health financier, responsible for mobilization and investment of nearly $4 billion a year to advance finding cures for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria epidemics, while supporting the building of resilient, efficient health systems worldwide. They have launched a new e-marketplace, seeking to address the global need for public health goods through sustainable, market-based approach.
While the marketplace will offer lifesaving supplies, the end goal here is to streamline the process so a vast array of commodities can be procured throughout supply chains across public health. As Devex explains:
“HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria all have a damaging effect on economies around the world. Malaria can impact a country’s gross domestic product by an estimated 5-6 percent, the costs associated with tuberculosis can be as much as 7 percent of a country’s gross domestic product, and HIV and AIDS in South Africa is estimated to depress GDP by as much as 17 percent over the next decade. In addition to steady programming to combat the diseases themselves, cost savings in procurement of supplies will greatly benefit national economies.”
The Global Fund’s e-marketplace is estimated to result in savings of $250 million by 2019, which are crucial as countries grow into greater ownership role in their public health responses. In the future, the marketplace could grow into a global public good where nations are able to efficiently purchase all types of health commodities, with prices that have been pre-negotiated for bulk purchasing, availability, and estimated delivery times.
As a Global Fund investor, Bank of America sees it “All global health pandemics impact global companies.” Their $10 million investment in awareness will go toward marketing, communications, and engagement to help healthcare cost reduction and increase global philanthropy.
As digital and physical systems collide, supporting global health is an ongoing concern. In an act of solidarity in corporate accountability, leading corporations and health organizations have called for voluntary public reporting of workforce health metrics.
The Vitality Institute is led by representatives from over a dozen organizations, such as IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, PepsiCo, Unilever, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The working group has discussed and debated best practices for workforce health metrics for over a year, resulting in a report and two health metrics scoreboards released at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
“We need to raise the bar through enhanced transparency, encouraging companies to manage, measure, and report on health metrics; and boards of directors, investors, and shareholders also need to start asking the right questions with respect to health,” said Erika Karp, the Founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital. Karp was not a member of the working Vitality group but is familiar with the health report.
“Health metrics reporting will enhance good governance as well as prospects for companies to operate profitably and sustainably over the long term.”
Later, Vitality and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) will seek to collaborate with major reporting bodies to obtain consensus about how to incorporate health metrics into corporate reporting.