As innovative as he was, Karl Benz could hardly have imagined that, 130 years after inventing the internal combustion engine car, self-driving vehicles would be a reality.

But autonomous cars, along with wearable technology, 3D printing, augmented reality and cryptocurrency, are proof that technology is fast becoming increasingly sophisticated and remarkable.

As it continues to transform the world, technology is also disrupting business.

“Everyone has very different opinions when it comes to Industry 5.0,” says Stuart Scanlon, MD of epic ERP, the  southern African distribution partner for Epicor Software. “However, if you look at the exponential rate of transformation in the technology industry, I believe the Fifth Industrial Revolution is going to be here far sooner than most people think and if your business isn’t prepared – you’re going to be left behind.”

While we don’t yet know what the Fifth Industrial Revolution will bring, it’s going to play in the virtual space, according to Scanlon, and it’s going to break down barriers between the real world and the virtual one.

People will have greater access to machines, where huge amounts of data can be extracted and processed intelligently to provide insights into efficiency and productivity, while also providing new business opportunities.

“Revolutions are occurring faster and faster, which is why a business needs an agile infrastructure, so it’s better set up to adjust services, products and procedures – to continue growing. With software that can support the unknown, a company will be taking steps to future-proof the business.

When new technology from the next revolution becomes entrenched, we’re going to be conducting business in different ways.

Consider companies like Uber and Airbnb; one is a transport company that owns no cars, while the other offers accommodation but owns no rooms. People can’t yet envisage the changes, but they need to be ready to respond,” says Scanlon.

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