Home5GNokia CEO: Fourth Industrial Revolution ‘hype or hyper engine?’

Nokia CEO: Fourth Industrial Revolution ‘hype or hyper engine?’

Rajeev Suri on Fourth Industrial Revolution for ‘productivity gains, economic growth and business success’

SAN FRANCISCO–“Certainly there’s plenty of hype,” Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri said of the ICT-enabled, socalled Fourth Industrial Revolution during a keynote presentation at Mobile World Congress Americas this week. “Everyday there’s a new headline about how the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change life as we know it and for the better. I believe that will be the case. But I also understand the skepticism.”

Suri noted what he deemed a “golden century” of increased productivity between 1870 and 1970. Paraphrasing a macro-economic analysis of the period out of Northwest University, he said, “That was a time of amazing change. Darkness was replaced by light. Isolation was replaced by travel and color images on the TV. Manual housework was replaced by appliances. Life expectancy went from 45 to 72. Horses and buggies were out and cars drove in. And aesthetics, refrigeration, sanitation and so much more fundamentally changed human life as it was known. There was an improvement in overall living standards the likes of which had not been seen in human history. But then, it tapered off.”

Since the endpoint in the 1970s, Suri said productivity growth has fallen to one-third the rate of the previous century. With some exception around the internet boom of the 90s, “The massive innovations in communications, computing and so much more have done little to accelerate economic growth. That should get all of our attention and make all of us concerned.”

So what are the implications for 5G, seen as a long-term, multi-trillion-dollar enabler of transformation that comes with an obvious consumer impact, but more importantly, the promise to transform enterprises and industries? “I’m an optimist,” Suri said. “I absolutely, firmly, deeply believe that we’re on the cusp of not just a new technological revolution but a new productivity revolution.”

Citing research from Nokia Bell Labs, he dissected what enabled the golden century previously referenced. “Four physical network infrastructure technologies provided the underlying foundation for growth: energy, transportation, health and sanitation, and communication networks.” From there, those four influencers were spurred by two other factors. “They had to become widespread in use before a tipping point was reached. They had to work in tandem. Only when all were widely diffused did the true magical fast growth come about.”

To recapture that paradigm, he pointed to digital equivalencies in energy generation and demand, transportation, connected health enabling remote access and the shift of communications networks from person-to-person, point-in-time to billions of constantly connected people and devices.

Bottom line: “We see the United States achieving a second major productivity jump somewhere in the five-year period from 2028 to 2033. That is big news. And we believe that jump will be significant–in the range of 30% to 35%. The higher productivity rate could add trillions of dollars to the U.S. economy every year.”

In a moment of levity, he said while flying cars, holograms like that of Princess Leia in Star Wars–know your audience, right?–“or even self-lacing shoes and a Mr. Fusion energy reactor powering our Deloreans” hasn’t brought about the “Back to the Future world of Marty McFly…but the progress we are making is real.”

Watch Suri’s keynote address here. 


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