Commentary & Analysis
Industry 4.0: Leading the Transformation
Industrial revolutions are momentous events, and many historians agree that there have been three to date. Interconnected digital technology might be triggering the fourth revolution, and this article explores the actions that printers should take to remain at the forefront of Industry 4.0.
By Barb Pellow
Published: June 15, 2017
- The term Industry 4.0 refers to the combination of several major innovations in digital technology, all coming to maturity simultaneously and poised to transform critical manufacturing sectors.
- McKinsey & Company’s article entitled “The CEO’s Role in Leading Transformation” offers advice for facing the challenges associated with Industry 4.0.
- Although business owners need talented individuals that can work independently, they also need players that are dedicated to performing as a team.
We are hearing a lot of buzz about the next industrial revolution—Industry 4.0. Industrial revolutions are momentous events, and many historians agree that there have been three to date. The ?rst was triggered in the 1700s by the commercial steam engine, which mechanized much of the work that our ancestors were forced to do by hand. Electricity drove the second revolution at the beginning of the 20th Century, leading to the birth of mass production. The third industry era came about with the introduction of computers after World War II. A number of strategists now believe that we are at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution, which is being driven by interconnected digital technology.
The term Industry 4.0 refers to the combination of several major innovations in digital technology, all coming to maturity simultaneously and poised to transform critical manufacturing sectors. The printing industry will be significantly impacted by the digitization of the manufacturing sector, which is being fueled by a number of factors:
- The rise in data volumes and connectivity
- The increased need for data analytics and business-intelligence to run printing businesses as well as support customer applications
- New forms of human/machine interaction such as touch interfaces and augmented-reality systems
- Improvements in transferring digital instructions to the physical world with things like 3-D printing
What’s a Printer to Do?
As print industry executives, you need to lead the transformation to Industry 4.0. Several years ago, McKinsey & Company published an article that provided some great advice on leading in times of change entitled “The CEO’s Role in Leading Transformation.” These concepts remain incredibly relevant as the printing industry faces the challenges associated with Industry 4.0. McKinsey and Company offers 4 key recommendations to thrive during times of transformation:
- Make the transformation meaningful. Transformations require employees to rethink and reshape the business while they continue to run day-to-day operations. The CEO must take a personal and engaging approach to concisely explain why the transformation is critical, the impact it will have on the company, and how it will affect all employees as individuals.
- Understand that as an executive and a business owner, you are also the organization’s chief role model. CEOs need to demonstrate actions and behaviors that are appropriate for business transformation, and they must also encourage the same behaviors in others.
- Build a strong and committed top team. Although business owners need talented individuals that can work independently, they also need players that are dedicated to performing as a team. Success requires an investment in “team time”—team members must meet on a regular basis and have clearly-defined roles and responsibilities. They must also display a willingness to share their ideas so they can form an effective dialogue that supports a well-structured agenda.
- Maintain a relentless pursuit of success. Business owners and key executives must direct their personal energy toward ensuring that all of the actions the company takes have an impact. Decisions must be made quickly without sacrificing the value of collective debate. It is critical that the CEO strikes a balance between embracing initiatives that deliver profit today and exploring those that build capacity to deliver tomorrow’s results.
The Bottom Line
Although many businesses are considering a digital transformation in manufacturing, there are almost as many who simply refuse to acknowledge that Industry 4.0 is happening. Although the Fourth Industrial Revolution certainly won’t swoop into your print operations overnight, the technologies that are evolving the industry once again aren’t going anywhere but up. Print service providers must be proactive, or they will risk being left behind. Now is the time to proactively build and prepare to lead a strategy that embraces the digital transformation!