3 ways firms can master the digital challenges of the 4IR

Cybersecurity and AI: a light show in a car park.

Cybersecurity, automation and speed of decision-making are key considerations for company owners. Image: Unsplash

Algirde Pipikaite
Lead, Strategic Initiatives, World Economic Forum
William Dixon
Global Head, Research, ISTARI
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As the Accenture Technology Vision holds, technology is embedded in everything we do, improving the ways we live, work and experience the world. Almost all organizations in the future will be digital, and 60% of all global GDP will come from digital sources by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum insight report Our Shared Digital Future.

Ultimately, only companies that master the profound technological challenges at work and transform them into opportunities will remain relevant and thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Organizations that do not adapt by using new digital technologies, such as the internet of things and artificial intelligence (AI), will fail to be ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and could find that two-thirds of their markets will be gone by 2022.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report predicts that leaders and organizations will need to understand and learn to harness four major technologies – 5G, cloud technology, big data and AI. One of the most significant of these technologies is AI. Companies that embrace AI and integrate it into every element of their strategy are the ones that will thrive. The issue leaders are grappling with now is how to take these abstract technologies and develop their real-world applications in order to become a successful in the future.

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With criminal networks constantly adapting and adopting new technologies for their malicious activities, cybersecurity teams in legitimate organizations are applying the most up-to-date technological methods to respond to and prevent attacks. Any well-run security capability that can keep ahead of any potential attacks and threats is exploiting the latest emerging technologies, and collaborating in a broader global security system, all while operating at internet speed. This expertise should be taken out of the back office and put at the forefront of an organization’s digital transformation.

In three key dimensions, business leaders can look to their organization’s cyber leaders, their security teams and the cybersecurity industry to probe how they are tackling the profound technological challenges, and to decide how to transform their organizations.

1. Building the workforce of the future

Cybersecurity as an industry is defined by its skills shortage, as well as the ever-increasing volume and scale of attacks. According to SC Media, most enterprises see more than 1,000 security alerts per day. As a result, security teams globally are pioneering the use of deep technology for building detection, response and mitigation capabilities to defend their organizations. In the cybersecurity sector, deployment of advanced technology is an everyday necessity. Cybersecurity automation and orchestration in combination with artificial intelligence frees up analysts’ time to focus on the most important decisions, requiring skills such as creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating a greater demand for technology and for people to work together effectively. Nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today. Advances in artificial intelligence are opening up new opportunities to empower human talent through automating labour-intensive tasks, orchestrating decision-making and mining volumes of data. This experience is invaluable for an organization. By mastering artificial intelligence to do the manually intensive and repetitive tasks, companies can allow their employees be redeployed on creative tasks that require critical thinking.

Image: FIPP
2. Improve and personalize real-time business decisions

Successful organizations during the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be the ones that can take decisions at internet speed. The most pioneering cybersecurity companies, such as Darktrace and CUJO AI, are applying artificial intelligence in studying corporate ecosystems, the logic behind any actions taken and methodologies of how decisions are taken in those organizations. Not only is artificial intelligence defending the digital ecosystem, it is doing so by making micro decisions and interactions to prevent an intrusion in real-time.

These use cases in cybersecurity AI application could be translated into other business processes. We already start seeing applications of artificial intelligence in supply chain management, customer service interactions and interactive media. The use of artificial intelligence will have significant implications for business decisions across the entire interconnected system.

3. Building in a multi-stakeholder future

In order to stay ahead of cyber criminals and cyber threats, organizations have to cooperate on sharing intelligence, integrating machine-to-machine operations and interacting with global partners, including law enforcement, the wider security community and industry peers. Cybersecurity has moved from a narrow, technology-focused field into a global ecosystem that uses shared values to secure our digital future. The most important element of an organization’s cybersecurity knowledge and expertise is not solely defined by technology, but rather by pioneering the close partnerships between the private and public sectors, and interacting with direct competitors.

Customer service ... automation will play a key role in how workforces evolve.
Customer service ... automation will play a key role in how workforces evolve. Image: Unsplash

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the organizations that will strive are the ones that view themselves as part of a much broader multi-stakeholder community. Harnessing AI will help businesses scale their operations. The organizations of the future are the ones that can develop in this new integrated Fourth Industrial Revolution model.

The future has to be built based on a multi-stakeholder approach. Advanced manufacturing, autonomous mobility and smart cities require true partnership models based on our shared values and must move at internet speed. Cybersecurity industry is already harnessing AI in order to protect our shared digital future in a multi-stakeholder approach, uniting law enforcement agencies, private sector and government cybersecurity experts.

A well-implemented AI strategy will allow organizations to empower their employees to be creative and focus on solving problems, improve and personalize customer experiences, and enable contribution to society. The application of AI in cybersecurity is a great example for leaders on how to transform their organizations.

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CybersecurityArtificial Intelligence
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