WHY SHOULD YOU CARE ABOUT THE 4th INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION?

If you think investment in technology will save you, you have it wrong, very wrong! This revolution is about its people. Specifically about its customers!

Access to new technologies opened up new doors and made things possible that could only be dreamed about previously, drives every industrial revolution.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution encompasses the fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds. It blurs old technological distinctions and fields of science. The change, fueled by the growing utilization of new technologies such as using and better understanding data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, additive manufacturing, bio-science, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced wireless technologies, among others.

Technology fuels the transformation, but within the digital transformation, it is not the main focus. Here the focus lies on the people, societies, markets, and economies that change due to technology.

If you think investment in technology will save you, you have it wrong, very wrong!

This revolution is about its people. Specifically about its customers! New technologies in this context do overturn the old rules and structures. They enable a shift in possibilities both in the world of production and consumption. However, we need to focus on the change in production and consumption. Think of technology simply as a tool.

“We must develop a comprehensive and globally shared view of how technology is affecting our lives and reshaping our economic, social, cultural, and human environments. There has never been a time of greater promise or greater peril.” Klaus Schwab, Founder, World Economic Forum

The correct use of these technologies tends to re-write the established business wisdom and mock decades-old principles and models. In short, they can be game-changers if used correctly. We believe it would be irresponsible to work with a predefined list of technologies that fuels digital transformation — the list can never be complete as it keeps changing. Additionally, the list is not the same for every industry, country, or region.

The availability of these technologies ushered in a new era of economic disruption with uncertain socioeconomic and moral consequences. Although access to these technologies brings new and exciting opportunities, the consequences of their use may also have a negative societal impact unless fundamental shifts occur in government policy, education, and organizational design.

“Most companies fail because they think digital transformation journey begins with technology, ironically it ends with it.” (from Digital Transformation Strategies To Thrive In Post Pandemic World, Techment Inc)

We reiterate that Digital Transformation (DX) is NOT about the technologies but how organizations re-invent themselves to use the opportunities brought by these technologies while making the best possible use of people’s unique abilities. The use of disruptive technologies makes new business models and stakeholder relationships possible. In some instances, it changes how we work. There is now a pressing need for organizational agility and flexibility in the relationships with all stakeholders but more specifically, customers, suppliers, partners, and employees!

Digital Transformation is about creating a productive environment within your organization where the benefits of technology and people’s talents can happily co-exist and make the organization’s ability to serve its customers better.

This article is part of a series exploring the use of Agile ADapT™, a Digital Transformation Method for incumbent organizations struggling to compete in the digital age.

Johann Botha, a digital change provocateur & getITright® CEO. Transform & build organizational agility, & digital-age capabilities. Consultant, speaker & author