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The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Still About People and Trust

- January 19, 2016 - 22 Comments

This week, I’ll navigate Davos with hundreds of global business and government leaders to tackle the opportunities and obligations we have to improve the state of the world. The theme for this year, “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” could not hit closer to home. Klaus Schwab of WEF has defined the Fourth Industrial Revolution as the “fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds, creating entirely new capabilities and dramatic impacts on political, social and economic systems.”

These conversations about the almost infinite potential of technology are ones we have on a daily basis at Cisco. We believe in the power of technology to transform industries and lives, and we see it moving faster every day. Our conversations, however, go far beyond the technology. They are about the people, the relationships, and the trust necessary to execute against the opportunity in front of us.

Even in a digital world where machines can now learn on their own and mimic our intelligence, it is still about people. It is people who build and benefit from the technology, and it’s also people who must adapt in order to participate in this world where technology is pervasive across every aspect of our lives.

We have much to learn from the past three industrial revolutions. In each case, the disruption of the various industries has led to a disruption of the workforce where new skills were necessary for economic survival. Often times, the reskilling of workers lagged far behind the revolution, creating significant societal challenges and even leaving much of an entire generation stranded. I know we can do better this time. In the last year, we have committed – together with the local leaders – to train nearly one million new students in countries around the world such as France, Italy, Australia, India, UK, Saudi Arabia and Germany. These public-private partnerships are immensely powerful – a country can lower unemployment while creating new, higher value jobs, and a company can address talent gaps in critical areas and train a loyal base of future employees. The time to move is now, the opportunities are significant, and the obligation is ours.

Another important focus area is the significant global shortage of security talent. As technology connects everything, the amount of data generated is growing exponentially – and it’s only going to increase. In this new world, data becomes one of the most critical assets that any organization has, and we need to start thinking of it relative to its importance to our future. This data is incredibly important, therefore protecting this data is more critical than ever.

This opportunity is not lost on attackers either, as their methods have become more sophisticated to capitalize on this data. Conversely, businesses are struggling to keep pace with the rapid advancements of cyber attacks. According to our 2016 Annual Security Report, only 45% of businesses reported that they are confident in their ability to determine the scope of an attack and remediate the damage. The potential risk of loss from these ongoing threats can be staggering to customers — upwards of $575 billion dollars.

As we think about this new world, and the interwoven systems that are being created, a new level of trust is required — beyond anything in our history. We must trust the systems that manage and process the data, the people and partners who access the data, and the fundamental technologies and processes that protect the data. We expect there will be approximately one million cyber security jobs available around world without enough talent to fill them. This is our opportunity to make sure that we give people the necessary skills to make the leap into the security market, and why we are announcing a new $10 million Global Cisco Security Scholarship. This is just a start to help us educate, train and reskill the job force to be the security IT professionals needed to fill this vast talent shortage.

As our week in Davos kicks off and we have important conversations about how technology can help tackle the world’s greatest challenges, we must remain focused on people, and we must do everything in our power to build an ecosystem of trust. If we successfully navigate these two challenges, we will collectively experience the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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  1. Great idea about security scholarship. How one can apply for it? Thanks

  2. You said "In each case, the disruption of the various industries has led to a disruption of the workforce where new skills were necessary for economic survival." -- I've been following the insightful presentations and commentary from Davos. There seems to be agreement that traditional approaches to higher education are not going to meets the needs of significant sectors of the current global workforce that will be displaced by the Fourth Industrial Revolution phenomena. What's unclear, at this time, is a viable solution to this huge challenge. However, companies that embark on digital business transformation projects will require many more people with current digital skills -- this much we do know.

    This is great news! I am glad you are proactively fostering the next generation of talent.

    Great idea about security scholarship. How I can apply for it? Thank you!

    This blog entry got me thinking. It really does still come down to how much we trust one another. Technology is a great thing but it can be manipulated to destroy trust - people are what drive trust in technology. Without people and trust, technology becomes more "big brother" than an enabler.

  3. Is there opportunity for us here in the Philippines to avail this scholarship?

  4. How do we get our local grade school systems involved in this security scholarship? I would like to see it become something available in the younger age range to set their course into adulthood.

  5. So what about people without the aforementioned tech skills? Are they just going to be left in the code? Also, I don't believe technology is actually the key to solving the world's most pressing problems. Food security before cybersecurity!

  6. What is technology without understanding of negative and positive observance of human input? Trustiing the dead space of how technology will be as humans are....Around the world.... Lets use it properly....Cisco knows... :-)

  7. thanks you for information I add to my library

    Let's lead the way into the 4th industrial revolution and change the world for the better!

    As "Our conversations, however, go far beyond the technology." it is through you (@Chuck) and your leadership team's guidance that #WeAreCisco will continue to innovate, lead, and drive to "collectively experience the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution". Our focus on women leaders. Our focus on underdeveloped communities and countries. Our focus on making the impossible, real.

    Indeed, investing in people and fostering trust is key to any business strategy In terms of the scholarship announcement - what a great step! - There's a real opportunity to increase diversity and inclusion of people at all grade levels however all decision makers must be Open to foster change and inclusiveness to take advantage of the opportunity. (We tend to hire people who look like us, think like us, act like us etc so breaking that cycle would also be essential part of success. The focus on the People Deal is very encouraging.

  8. thanks you for information I add to my library

  9. This is a very interesting viewpoint - the role of skilled staff to provide trust and security in an increasingly digitalized workplace. This fits with an argument I have tried to make myself in my recent blog "Deskilling 4.0? How Office Jobs Look Like in 2020". I basically argue that increasing automation of office work will grow demand for semi-skilled IT-savvy office workers who combine various roles: making new systems work, troubleshooting, entering dirty data, connecting disconnected workflows, and handling complaints. Please take a look at my blog and make comments if you like:

  10. By feb. 2016. Looks good.:-)

  11. How about pulling the plug on Aon-Hewitt? People may actually be employable in the technology industry again!

  12. very goood thanks.

  13. thanks.

  14. thank you.

  15. It´s a dream for me to be able to go to the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, next February 26Th, so I would be cappable to demonstrate my revolutionary invent, named Foroscopio Quántico Regulador (´´SPRINTER i´´)created as the most revolutionary device for solve must congested terrestrial vialities in any metrópoli with it´s 14 functions & 28 Social benefits, never seen before. Fortunately Great people from ´CISCO ´´ got me in touch today and will help me to finish this dream´.

    make it a TRIO people process and product. pick two and make the third happen