Industry 4.0 will demand better communications skills

By Luiz Antônio Gaulia

The internet of things drones, artificial intelligence, big data, researches on the brain and the alliance in stunning speed of digital, physical and biological. This isn’t fiction, it’s a dazzling reality that reaches the business universe and is transforming society. According to Klaus Schwab, executive president of the World Economic Forum and author of the book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, many people still don’t see the implications of all these transforming and revolutionary movements that technology is enhancing. The labor market will never be the same and the difficulties of the organizations to hire and train people for this admirable new world are equally challenging.

The promise of a so called industry 4.0 will be a greater autonomy for intelligent machines, capable of learning on their own and of communicating among one another, clearing human operators to remote controls and more free time to be dedicated to other tasks or still more free time with their families. The cities and physical spaces will be smart and fully interconnected to information, image and data banks, capable of identifying, in the blink of an eye, the interests of a customer or even the intentions of a citizen. Humanized and empathy-programmed robots will replace stressed call center operators; drones will bring the takeaway pizza tip free; in rainy days, we’ll be able to quickly shape our rubber galoshes at home in 3D printers before going out in the soaked street; smart offices will enable groups of professionals to work afar through virtual holographic meetings, ending international work trips or avoiding displacement in traffic; consumers will be able to experience emotions and sensations through gadgets installed on their fingers and eyes before buying products and services, fully testing the purchase and thus, tens of thousands of habits and behaviors should change completely through the power of these innovations.

But, in order for all these to happen as imagined by scientists and visionary global entrepreneurs, such a revolution demands not only technical knowledge on the part of the professionals, but also precious personal abilities. Companies need people that are passionate about learning, unlearning and learning again; collaborative capacity under pressure and working in network; capacity of working in ambiguous environments and under constant process of change; flexibility and emotional intelligence to deal with conflicts and the capacity to predict, understand and solve problems. All of them, in my understanding, based solely on intrapersonal and interpersonal communication skills. On the basis of it all, communication is the key to victorious processes and projects.

Industry 4.0 will demand greater communication skills and only a few apps and digital platforms will be capable of handling the emotional side of human relations. This challenge exists since the mechanical industrial production – the first industrial revolution -, and went through changes brought by electricity, mass manufacture and also the arrival of electronics, information technology and telecommunications. The technical innovations move forward, but the challenge of conversing remains. Or not? And, in my understanding, so it will remain. If robots with humanized reactions are to replace people in certain workplaces or in public attendance, the live interlocution will remain conflicting, for the new power dispute, recognition of merit, competitiveness among departments, egos and prides, initiative and leadership styles will remain existing within enterprises, directly affecting human relations and damaging dialogue.

4.0 communication will gain more digital appliance, full of colors and intoxicating lights, but will also need to gain quality in relationships, empathy and openness for dialogue. A challenge that joins us since cave times.