But what exactly do we refer to when we talk about emerging digital technologies that will play a role in globalization 4.0? To answer this question, we need to evaluate some of the technologies that are highly disruptive to corporate and institutional business processes.
Technologies are able to change an organization’s functions forever, introducing innovation elements that go far beyond simple digitalization and dematerialization. Technologies are able to contribute in a decisive way to the types of problem solving that are typical in a simple or complex organizational system.
For the sake of brevity, we won’t analyze them all, but we will instead limit ourselves to those which, in order of impact, we consider the most disruptive: Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, and Robotic Process Automation.
Let’s briefly introduce each one:
Artificial Intelligence: We call it intelligence, but in fact, it is far from our human intelligence. Rather, it is software that is programmed not to perform a specific and determined action, but instead to learn how to react to an occurring event through an experiential process. After coding and before it can work, this software needs to be trained; subsequently, it will be able to respond to new requests through simple cognitive procedures.
For example, software that can recognize an invoice, not because it is programmed with the specific positions of the text in the document, but because it is able to understand what the document actually contains. In this way, we do not need to program the software to recognize all invoice models, but instead, teach them how an invoice is made. Subsequently, the software will be able to recognize all types of invoices, regardless of the used model.
Internet of Things: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to objects that connect to the internet in order to interact with other objects or with people. By objects, we mean complex objects, such as vehicles, domestic appliances, wearables (objects that are worn, such as watches, etc.), smartphones, medical devices, and more.
In concrete terms, the IoT adds the possibility of running software and connecting to the Internet to these commonly used objects, allowing the exchange of data and the consequent specific action / reaction.
Blockchain: Often confused with the Bitcoin currency, this wonderful technology actually conceals much richer treasures than simple cryptocurrency. Blockchain is the technology that allows Bitcoin to work, but it is not born just for this purpose. It is an ingenious system of concatenation (in other words, a chain) of information in consecutive blocks (blocks). It is no longer possible to modify a datum without invalidating all of the data subsequent to the modified one. This is the so-called immutability of information. This property is of considerable interest in all types of transactions, both commercial and institutional.
Blockchain also allows the decentralization of processes by favoring disintermediation by central bodies / organizations. It will play a very important role in the development of globalization 4.0.
Robotic Process Automation or RPA: RPA was born as a technology that mimics human-machine interaction for the execution of repetitive tasks. Today it is evolving, with the acquisition of cognitive abilities that allow the software to solve a decision-making process, even in the presence of unexpected events. This is possible thanks to the convergence of Artificial Intelligence with this technology, which modifies the execution of problem-solving from deterministic to probabilistic.
As mentioned above, the list of new technologies could include many more items. However, in this article, we will focus only on the four listed topics.