We are in the fourth industrial revolution, and it is impacting more than the manufacturing, transportation, and other generally “physical” industries. It is affecting every level of the marketplace.

In every industrial revolution, some aspects of the industry are being augmented or replaced. During the first revolution, we saw the handoff of mass production from human laborers to machines. In the second revolution, the changes have to do with distance (through electrical, telecommunications, and transportation developments). And on the third, we have seen the digital revolution take over the business sphere through computers.

The fourth revolution builds on top of the third and takes over industrial automation and dynamic data analysis. Not only are we looking at autonomous layers of production, but we are also seeing more of our thinking and decision-making being offloaded to these intelligent, impartial, and tireless machines.

Back in the day, automation only meant machines doing a clockwork chain of processes over and over again. It took a while for humans to embrace the fact that all these digital precision could lead to actual decisions. This evolved through the large amounts of data we can produce daily and put together for analysis, the ability to integrate various computations to produce predictive and replicable information, and the continuous advancements in Artificial Intelligence.

In every industrial revolution, humans have always wondered and worried about their place in the business. The results in adapting to these developments are staggering, that the question of “are we gradually being displaced by the machines?” continues to loom over many employees.

But the reality is, people remain relevant in the industries, just not in the same exact way as they did before. Every process requires health and ethical oversight. Every analysis and forecast needs to be translated to make meaningful developments to products and services. And people still need to effectively sell to people.

As we face the inevitable digitization of many facets of our businesses, PwC released a meaningful article on how CEOs should align their organization and human resources towards this development. To summarize, the article posits four areas of responsibility that leadership needs to oversee:

  1. The CEO must drive the organizational changes to allow digitization to streamline their business process
  2. Hire more man power in the fields of software and IoT engineering and data scientists, while up-training the current workforce for adapting to the new technologies
  3. Industries must have a similar approach to software companies and utilize analytics for product developments
  4. The CEO must invest in digitizing operations through solutions like track-and-trace, asset management, and digital twinning (replicating physical assets digitally for analysis)

Through industrial digitization, the workforce becomes exposed to more actionable information, thereby enabling them to be more focused around development, innovation, and design. As the intelligence of industrial processes elevates so is the need for our creative intelligence in making the most of these improvements. The human factor has never left the building. Industries only require the exclusively human tasks to take center stage.

Photo by Franck V. via Unsplash.com

References:

Industry 4.0 – via Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Industry_4.0

WC Website – Defining the new DNA of industrial digital organisations: the CEO’s agenda https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/industrial-manufacturing/publications/defining-new-dna.html