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ISA looks toward the future through the prism of globally transformative forces

Bill Lydon is an InTech contributing editor with more than 25 years of industry experience. He regularly provides news reports, observations, and insights here and on

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Megatrends are powerful, transformative forces that change global economies and influence industrial operations. They both drive and are driven by disruptive innovation. ISA is tracking megatrends in four categories: Manufacturing Technology Transformation, Workforce of the Future, Standards under Pressure, and Environmental, Safety and Security Evolutions. Part of the ISA 75th Anniversary InTech Special Edition.

ISA looks toward the future through the prism of globally transformative forces

By Bill Lydon


Megatrends are revolutionary. They are powerful, transformative forces that change the global economy, business, and society. Megatrends both drive and are driven by disruptive innovations. Henry Ford’s design and production methods are often cited as one of the most significant megatrend achievements of the past. They both leveraged and advanced technology, creating better jobs and stimulating societal change.

The concepts and goals of Industry 4.0—or, as the World Economic Forum terms it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution—represent a modern megatrend. As we enter this new era, innovative manufacturing and production companies worldwide are automating and digitizing operations with the aim to be more competitive. By leveraging disruptive innovations and technological developments, these companies are positioning themselves to become leaders, create new markets, and thrive.

History teaches that resisting major shifts is not productive and can be fatal. Being successful often requires rethinking fundamentals, which can lead to radical change. When faced with powerful transformative forces, the options are to change and grow, or die.

One way to reduce resistance is to prepare. To assist with that, ISA is using the occasion of its 75th anniversary to identify the megatrends impacting the world of automation. Online now and continuing into 2021 and beyond, the ISA Megatrends website ( will collect and share resources on the trends, disruptions, challenges, and solutions having the greatest effect on industries and industrial professionals around the world.

As ISA president Eric Cosman has said, noting the 75th anniversary theme, “The ever-changing face of the automation profession is driven by forces ranging from changing markets and business models to the emergence of disruptive technology.” Here are some of the forces expected to change the face of automation in the coming months and years.

Workforce of the future

Manufacturing technology transformation

Standards under pressure

Environmental, safety, and security evolutions


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