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posted: 5/15/2019 1:00 AM

Change: Why Illinois will be at the forefront

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A Greek philosopher once said, "Change is the only constant in life." That statement has never been truer than in our world today. We now carry computers more powerful than those used to land a man on the moon in our pockets and change is everywhere around us.

As we consider the impact change will have on our lives, our communities, and our businesses it makes sense to first set the stage.

Change is driving: How long we live and the quality of that long life resulting in dynamic shifts in health care delivery, life sciences, pharmaceuticals and senior services.

Change is driving: How we eat and what we eat resulting in new food innovations, more organics, hydroponics, shifts in import and export strategies for agricultural products, and the emergence of genetically modified foods.

Change is driving: How we travel, how we move around, and how we work. From the Internet of Things to Big Data to ride sharing and driverless cars to private space flights.

Change is driving: How we make things, with a future now focused on increased automation, artificial intelligence, robotics, and intuitive diagnostics.

John Chambers, chairman emeritus of Cisco in the introduction to his new book, "Connecting the Dots," talks about this latest revolution this way: "We're on the cusp of a revolution that will take the impact of the internet and not only multiply it but play out faster than any disruption we've ever seen. Within a decade, some 500 billion cars, fridges, phones, robots and other devices will likely be communicating online ... The potential for new technologies to foster longer lives, safer communities, and greater global prosperity, as well as create hundreds of millions of new jobs (is very real). But I also now understand the fears because this disruption will be so brutal that 40-plus percent of business today won't be here 10 years from now. We're already seeing that impact start to play out in political movements, job losses, and broken business models."

It's been said that "...every company is now a tech company" and must grapple with massive, disruptive change at a speed and on a scale we have never seen before. Some call it the Fourth Revolution. Since the financial crisis of 2008, economists worldwide have tried to explain what is happening without success. Our models of the past in politics, economics, and science are in flux and at a time in history when more knowledge is available than ever before. It seems our ability to understand the present or anticipate the future has never been more uncertain.

The impact of change on our society is massive. Governments, traditionally more stable and reactionary to change, must now join the Fourth Revolution as innovators seeking to anticipate future needs and, in some cases, constructively abandon decades or even centuries of now obsolete strategies and knowledge.

Whether an individual, a community, or a nation this is a daunting task.

So, in this Fourth Revolution -- this Industry 4.0 -- why and how will Illinois be at the forefront of the revolution?

We are now and always have been innovators and inventors and that legacy continues today. Whether through our world class universities or our global companies' new inventions and patents, new creation is in our core DNA. And as the old gives way to the new we are at the forefront of new business creation.

Our companies invest in themselves through research & development on a scale few other states can even imagine … remaking, recreating, transforming for the future. In virtually every industry, and driven by new technology, Illinois is emerging as the new frontier. The diversity of the Illinois economy may be our greatest advantage in the coming decades as The Fourth Revolution, much like the previous three, will advance every facet of business and society. Illinois is ready and the future is indeed very bright … here's to the revolution.

• Mark Peterson is President and CEO of Intersect Illinois.