Business Reporter –
MUSCAT, APRIL 16 –
We are on the cusp of entering uncharted waters that world leaders are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). A revolution characterized by automation, digital connectivity and technological innovation. Breakthroughs and new products in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, synthetic biology, blockchain, the Internet of things (IoT), driverless cars, drones, 3D printing and nanotechnology, to name but a few are already beginning to redefine how Oman works, lives and plays.
These 4IR issues are set for discussion at the opening session of Ithraa’s Inside Stories 2018 season. Scheduled to be held 7:30 pm Tuesday, May 8, at the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) Training Centre in Al Hail North, the evening’s top-flight panel includes: Dr Hafith al Shihi, Department of Information Systems, College of Economics & Political Science, Sultan Qaboos University; Dr Abdullah al Balushi, President, Ericsson Oman; Mohammed Nayaz, Partner, Africa, India & Middle East, Advisory Services & MENA Leader for Resilience Services, Ernst & Young; and Amrou al Sharif, President & CEO, Oman-Lasso Exploration & Production Karwan.
4IR offers Oman significant economic and productivity advantages, as well as new jobs, lower prices, more competition and greater product choice for consumers. “On the other hand,” warns Taleb al Makhmari (pictured), Ithraa’s Director General for Marketing & Media and organiser of the Inside Stories initiative, “while technology has historically created more employment opportunities than it has destroyed, all the signs are 4IR will cause widespread global economic disruptions over the next few years.”
Reinforcing Al Makhmari’s point, McKinsey & Company research indicates that existing technologies could soon be responsible for the automation of 30 to 50 per cent of all current work activities — leading to $16 trillion in eliminated wages and significant job losses. The first to go are likely to be repetitive, blue-collar jobs, but even professionals will be at risk, as AI and robotics become more widespread. Not one Omani industry will be left unaffected by these changes.
“There are certainly major challenges ahead but it is not all doom and gloom.
However, local firms will have to adopt a different mind-set — scrutinizing and understanding what their value propositions are and how they can leverage 4IR technologies to stay relevant to customers and differentiate themselves,” explained Ithraa’s Director General.
It is clear that when implemented well, digitally-based technologies and systems can improve productivity, quality and reduce costs.
“Given increased levels of globalization, competition has never been as fierce. Omani companies, particularly SMES, will have to work harder to remain competitive. Engaging in 4IR is an imperative for the sultanate’s long-term economic prosperity. It is that straightforward,” noted Al Makhmari.
With a firm focus on the future, the goal of Ithraa’s Inside Stories is to draw in the community and explore new ideas.
“Events like Inside Stories are great at bringing people together from different backgrounds. Indeed, we are motivated by the belief that everyone needs to be part of the conversation about the future. Given the changes 4IR will bring, the call for society to develop new tools and skills is more urgent than ever,” pointed out Sajda al Ghaithy, Ithraa’s Media Director.
Business Reporter –