Consumers crave trust and control in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Stocks and Financial Services Press Releases Friday February 14, 2020 13:57
Bangkok--14 Feb--PwC Thailand
  • 90% of consumers are using at least one '4th Industrial Revolution' technology (4IR) including AI, internet of things, blockchain and drones.
  • Consumers willing to share personal data if there's a big pay-off.
  • Consumers' confidence with 4IR technologies will decide just how great an opportunity they are for global businesses.
A new report from PwC finds consumers are getting on board with Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, with 90% using at least one 4IR technology.
However as digital and physical worlds continue to blend, the rate of adoption may slow unless global businesses address workforce upskilling requirements and consumers' desire for transparency and control.

The PwC global report, Are we ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?, surveyed 6,000 consumers and 1,800 business leaders in six countries to obtain a clear picture of consumer sentiment toward 4IR technologies and their impact on life and work. Technologies surveyed included AI, internet of things, blockchains, and 3D printing.

PwC found consumers are leveraging a range of 4IR technologies*, and recognising benefits like time savings and productivity improvements. However consumers remain concerned about key issues including trust, that could significantly impact the overall adoption and success of the 4IR.

Balancing convenience with trust

Consumers welcome the conveniences that new technology brings but are cautious when it comes to their personal privacy. PwC found this to be true across markets, with South Korea (74%), India (70%) and the U.S. and China (tied at 69%) ranking data privacy and security as a top concern. The U.K. and Germany are slightly less concerned, at 66% and 58% respectively.

Conversely, South Korea (51%) is most likely to use 4IR products and services to access or store their financial information, compared to the U.S. (35%) the UK (24%) and Germany (20%), while South Korea (64%) and the U.S. and India (tied at 62%) are most likely to share health information to make them healthier or improve their quality of life.

When asked to identify their top three 4IR investment priorities, only 40% of business leaders cited alerting consumers to data breaches—yet consumers ranked this second-highest in importance to increase their comfort with 4IR.

Beyond the tech - driving workforce transformation in the 4IR

Employers and consumers are aligned on the positive impact 4IR can make in the workplace, especially when it comes to eliminating tedious tasks and optimising workflows. Additionally, 59% of consumers say that 4IR technology gives them more control over their work-life balance.

However, business leaders and consumers diverge when it comes to the impact of 4IR on their employment outlook, with business leaders (69%) seeing 4IR technologies as a driver of job creation, consumers (45%) citing 4IR technology as a concern over job security.

From a global perspective, concerns about job security are higher in Asia. India (73%), South Korea (57%) and China (52%) had a majority of respondents expressing concern, compared to the U.K. (44%), the U.S. (37%),and Germany (33%).

The analysis underlines how the 4th Industrial Revolution is more than just technology. It's a revolution of how we work and live. The challenge for business leaders is a clear disconnect between their priorities and those of employees when it comes to the impact of 4IR technology investments in the workforce. From employees' perspective, it's critical that business leaders establish mechanisms for employees to share concerns about the impact of technology on their jobs.

"As smart products and digital innovations continue to flood the market and enter the workplace, business leaders need to commit to a transparent, collaborative approach to upskilling their organisations, doing so with a clear purpose related to the business and human benefits of 4IR adoption," says Steve Pillsbury, PwC US Digital Operations Leader.

"It's up to employers to arm their workforces with this personalised learning and to foster both a business-led and grass-roots application of the new 4IR-related skills."
Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, Consulting Lead Partner at PwC Thailand, adds:

"There will be plenty of opportunities for 4IR technologies in Thailand going forward. This is largely because the development and adoption of emerging technologies and new innovations are increasingly gaining popularity among business operators.

"Already, we've seen wide adoption of technologies like AI, automation or data analytics. But the key challenge for the country today is upskilling our workforce. This has become the number one priority for Thai organisations because more and more people are still worried that technology is going to take their job, rather than helping them to work better in the future. Thai companies will also need to put in place effective data privacy measures to build trust and a good image for their organisations."


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