We live in a time when innovations are commonplace. We are constantly informed of new technologies, alternative uses to existing ones and more modern and secure applications and computer systems. We also have access to consumer products with small improvements, with more resources than the existing ones and others totally different. The speed of change surpasses our ability to stay updated.
Some authors name this period as the “Revolution 4.0” or the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which is characterized by the “ultra speed” in the generation and diffusion of new technologies.
This evolutionary process started with the division of labor at crafts workshops, thus arising manufacture. The “Industrial Evolution” started with the adoption of steam engine as the driving force, replacing animal traction, at mines and textile processing plants in England. This process continued with electric power (thermal and hydro), combustion engines, nuclear power, leading to modern electric engines, fuel cells, solar panels and wind turbines. On the other hand, the incorporation of new technology allowed more precise and automated processes.
Thus, the process may be divided in three stages (Revolutions). The first one was the adoption of water and steam to move machines; in the second stage, electric power and combustion engines started to be used, and labor started to be divided into increasingly larger production plants; in the third stage, production automation technology was used to control operation at factories.
The fourth stage (4.0) is based on the use of the internet of things, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, among other innovations that are modifying our daily routine and business around the world. Everything is connected by the internet: machines, people, sensors etc.
Some years ago, multinational companies and some governments recognized the disruptive potential of these technologies and incorporated the subject into their strategic agendas. The Academy did not ignore this movement of states and companies. Academic research in the areas of software, engineering, artificial intelligence, education and information technology is growing in several countries, mainly in Germany, the United States, China, Australia and South Korea.
These efforts are changing the relation between economic agents, with the adoption of partnerships in technology development, joint patent registration and collaboration to finance startups that develop new technologies.
Aiming at having an overview of the challenges and opportunities of organizations in this new era of the global economy, Deloitte conducted a research that highlighted that companies are concerned about the social and environmental effects of new technologies through product improvement and customer satisfaction. Another challenge is related to the strategic field, in which companies report difficulties in selecting paths and technologies, leading to the adoption of those that do not significantly affect production and organizational structure in the short-term.
The study also shows the changes in the training of employees at companies, indicating how they are prioritizing training rather than seeking new talent in the market. The concern is to prepare people to analyze the available databases in order to better manage their business, reduce inefficiencies and improve business returns.
And what about Brazil?
The "Revolution 4.0" has gained prominence in Brazil in the last three years, when multinational companies announced investments in this area and universities and the State began to discuss the challenges of the productive sectors in the adoption of new technologies. The term startups has stood out in the media in the past two years.
Deloitte’s research shows that Brazilian entrepreneurs highlight as the main challenges for the advancement of “Revolution 4.0” the lack of professionals prepared to use technology and the lack of knowledge about all the skills needed for the workforce in this new era. Thus, the most relevant point of attention is training people to work in this new productive and competitive environment. This challenge involves universities, companies, technology centers, technical schools and training centers, such as Senai, Sesi, Senar, among others.
But the area of ??greater prominence, in my view, is agribusiness. Agriculture 4.0 is at the forefront of the process in Brazil. Precision farming was the first wave and the use of georeferenced equipment. In the last years, the supply of remote sensing, internet of things, drones, software, etc. has grown.
Brazilian agriculture has, in some segments, a technological level similar to that of other large producers, such as the United States and Europe, which facilitates the adoption of technology developed abroad and its adaptation to the national context, called “tropicalization”.
Brazil needs to improve its position in the research and diffusion of these technologies, in the analysis of the use in productivity and the efficiency of agriculture and livestock. In addition, we need to discuss how to reduce the cost of acquiring and deploying new techniques in the field, increasing the rate of adoption by farmers.
Only by empowering people will the adoption of technology generate positive results and will the fruits of the "Revolution 4.0" be reaped in Brazil and in agribusiness, specifically, making it more sustainable and efficient.