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Industrial renaissance: digital disruption and the post 4.0 economy

Turin, 05/11/2018 - 06/11/2018, International Conference

Creativity, science and technology are the fundamental elements of the radical change that the digital revolution has brought to industry over recent years. Manufacturing – above all additive manufacturing – has reaped the benefits of the accelerated production timeframes and means resulting from the introduction of artificial intelligence, the ‘Internet of Things’ and 3D printing. The digital revolution does not hinge on technology alone however, it is primarily cultural, with suppliers either adapting or vanishing in this ecosystem of newly created materials.

The most efficient approach to dealing with the change is to focus on training. Human capital is the lynchpin of the new industrial revolution, whether that means retraining fifty year-olds expelled from the work force or grooming high school students to be the specialized technicians of the future. It is not technology that “steals” jobs, but inadequate training that leaves young people unemployed. Blockchains, a factor now pointing the way to a new business model, could play an essential role in the new scenario. In addition to those ever-essential investments, new skills are going to be needed to navigate the ocean of innovation.

Italian SMEs are not just fashion, food and furniture, but technology and transport too. Ital’s SME-generated surplus stands at fifth place in the world – ahead of Germany and the United States – with 34,000 firms exporting.

The disruption caused by the digital revolution has also rocked the stock market, and all indications seem to favor long-term strategies over short-term results since investing over the long range offers greater benefits and generates more employment.

The digital revolution also affects urban planning and transformations. Some examples of best practices, such as Barcelona, Tel Aviv and Turin, were presented. Barcelona is testing a form of open governance involving budget, salary and procedural transparency regarding all public procurements, modelled on a circular economy and integrated mobility. Tel Aviv has become a major attraction for international investments in high technology and innovation, and the trend continues to expand despite the political fallout from the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Turin has set up training centers where education and new skills are brought together in an effort to match supply with demand.

The digital revolution must be considered an opportunity for a cultural shift in the work world. The employment categories of the 20th century no longer suffice: in the future, the distinction between self-employed and dependent is destined to dissolve as the number of professionals rises.