As the Fourth Industrial Revolution gathers momentum, decision-makers from the public and private sectors are confronted with a new set of uncertainties regarding the future of production. Technologies are transcending the computing capabilities associated with the digital revolution, transforming the physical world through robotics and new methods of production; enhancing human beings physically, mentally, and experientially; and permeating the environment to facilitate greater interconnectivity, monitoring, and efficiency of resource use. Rapidly emerging technologies—such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, wearables, robotics and additive manufacturing—are spurring the development of new production techniques and business models that will fundamentally transform global production. These technologies are also driving new, more distributed and connected value chains. Both the speed and scope of change add a layer of complexity to the already challenging task of developing and implementing industrial strategies that promote productivity and inclusive growth.
In a dynamic and changing world, the World Economic Forum System Initiative on the Future of Production seeks to help usher in a sustainable production future that is:
- Solution-driven: technology can tackle and solve challenges that have previously been insurmountable.
- Human-centric: technology can unlock human potential by unleashing creativity, innovation and productivity in new ways.
- Sustainable: technology can promote sound production processes that minimize negative environmental impact, conserve energy and resources and enable carbon neutrality.
- Inclusive: employees, companies and countries at different stages of development benefit from Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and the transformation of production systems.
Within the framework of the System Initiative, the Country Readiness for the Future of Production project focuses primarily on the fourth objective: inclusive transformation and growth. As production systems stand on the brink of another technological revolution, countries need to build awareness of the changing nature of production, determine how to best prepare to benefit from this transformation and collaborate across the public and private sector to enhance readiness. This project builds upon the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness and benchmarking expertise and is a result of collaboration between the Future of Production and Future of Economic Progress teams at the Forum.
The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, has developed a new benchmarking framework, diagnostic tool and data set to help countries understand their current level of readiness for the future of production, as well as corresponding opportunities and challenges. This report shares the results from the inaugural Readiness for the Future of Production Assessment and insights from in-depth multistakeholder analysis in select countries, including India, Japan, Mexico, Russian Federation and South Africa. Findings are intended to catalyse multistakeholder dialogue to inform the development of modern industrial strategies. Leaders from both the public and private sectors need to work together to address key challenges, build on opportunities and define joint actions at the national, regional and global level.
We are grateful to the many economists, policy-makers, leaders and experts from diverse domains who have helped with the development of this tool. We would like to specifically thank members of the Country Readiness Project Steering Committee and Global Future Council on Production who have dedicated their time and insight to this effort. We would also like to thank the many institutions that have shared data for this analysis.
Head, System Initiative on
Shaping the Future of Production
World Economic Forum