Deloitte examines if companies are ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
Study finds executives appreciate the benefits the Fourth Industrial Revolution will bring but many lack a clear strategy
Political and corporate leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the World Economic Forum are examining the far-reaching impacts the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create in an increasingly globalized world. And while the benefits of blending together cyber and physical systems to usher in a new era of productivity are relatively clearcut, a well-articulated strategy to realize those benefits may be lacking, according to a study from Deloitte.
Deloitte CEO Punit Renjen, in a piece examining Industry 4.0 readiness, shared insights gleaned from a survey of 2,000 C-level executives from 19 countries. He found that the explosion in technological options can muddy the ability to execute.
Renjen wrote: “Leaders acknowledged they have too many options from which to choose and, in some cases, they lack the strategic vision to help guide their efforts. Organizational influences also challenge leaders as they seek to navigate Industry 4.0. Many leaders reported their companies don’t follow clearly defined decision-making processes, and organizational silos limit their ability to develop and share knowledge to determine effective strategies.”
Anther issue Renjen identifies is the use of new technology to maintain the status quo rather than drive organizational change. Leaders need to balance short-term return on investment with more long-term strategic spending. “Challenges include being too focused on short-term results and lacking understanding, business cases, and leadership vision. Leaders acknowledge the ethical implications inherent with new technology, but few companies are even talking about how to manage those challenges, let alone actively putting policies in place to do so. Further, business leaders and governments continue to wrestle with how to regulate Industry 4.0 technologies.”
Faced with global-level, tech-driven change, what are policymakers to do? Well, among other things, keep a tight focus on values and ethics, according to a WEF blog post from SocietyInside Director Hilary Sutcliffe and Conrad von Kameke, director, BioInnovators Europe.
Channeling Nobel Laureate and economist Paul Romer, the authors suggest: “With the sheer pace of change, it is understandable that many feel technology development is out of control; like we’re strapped to a speeding train, trying desperately to figure out whether that’s a light at the end of the tunnel or another train coming to flatten us…it can also be disempowering and unnerving…as tech appears to move fast than the capacity to steer or govern it.”
But, they write, as Romer put it, “‘Technology is not like weather, it doesn’t just happen to us.’ He reminds us that technology is fundamentally under our control and ‘if we collectively set our minds to improving technology, we can improve it in a direction that seems to be important to us and at a faster rate.'”