More than 50% of the world’s population is now online; roughly one million more people join the internet each day. Fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IR technologies are already bringing tremendous economic and societal benefits to much of the global population. Data are increasingly being collected on citizens by government and business alike, and these data are then monetized and used to refine the development and deployment of new 4IR technologies back towards these citizens, as consumers. Amassing of data by a handful of small entities leads to a further entrenchment of gaps between advanced and emerging economies.
4IR technologies pose challenge for businesses
Businesses, just as economies, rely on concerted global technology governance. Fragmentation and incompatibility between global cybersecurity and technology frameworks risk weakening businesses’ capabilities to adapt to the emerging challenges in a timely way, as raising transactional costs increases the financial burden on businesses.
More and more firms operate in complex, global and digital service ecosystems that not only expose them to their own cyber and technological weaknesses, but also to those of other participants—including customers, suppliers and managed system providers. At the same time, businesses are facing the challenge of implementing existing cybersecurity and 4IR standards (where they exist), while ensuring compliance with fragmented regulations on accountability, transparency, bias and privacy for developing 4IR technologies or simply applying them.
Because government and corporate leaders equally share the responsibility for promoting global cybersecurity and digital trust, cooperation between the public and private sectors is more vital than ever in areas such as information-sharing, collaboration with law enforcement agencies, and skill and capacity development.
The new digital geopolitical race also risks affecting businesses’ development of 4IR technologies and their market readiness to harness the benefits of the 4IR transformation. An open and interconnected cyberspace, along with global technological compatibility, are essential for businesses to be able to counter the dislocating impacts of social media, the economic impacts of global technology giants and potential security issues resulting from the digital technology race between the world’s leading economies.
By advocating for fair and concerted global actions on any 4IR-related governance frameworks, businesses can mitigate risks, ensure trust towards consumers and governments, and increasingly benefit from 4IR technologies tomorrow.