Industrial production was transformed by steam power in the nineteenth century, electricity in the early twentieth century, and automation in the 1970s. These waves of technological advancement did not reduce overall employment, however. Although the number of manufacturing jobs decreased, new jobs emerged and the demand for new skills grew. Today, another workforce transformation is on the horizon as manufacturing experiences a fourth wave of technological advancement: the rise of new digital industrial technologies that are collectively known as Industry 4.0.
Across almost all sectors and regions, companies face unprecedented disruption. The competitive advantages that once gave companies a defensible position - their product lineup, scale or legacy position - are no longer as secure as they were. Some upstart with a newer and more agile operating model will start taking market share - if it hasn't already.