The future of your business will depend on how well you understand the strategic changes

5 Building Blocks Preparing Leaders to Navigate the Complexity of Industry 4.0

June 22, 2019
Anja Hoffmann

Part 3 of 3 in the series “Crack the Digital Business Code to Thrive in the Industry 4.0”

How can we navigate better in the growing complexity of industry 4.0? Take a step back and see what digital investments have done for your business. The way we develop successful businesses in the industry 4.0 is radically changing. We must shift our focus on addressing challenges and opportunities.

Getting the most out of digital investments

Moving forward from idea to digital reality goes through collaboration. Increasingly, digital design and development is a team challenge, with companies embracing new internal and external partners to rethink and design better products, processes, services, and business models they couldn’t develop on their own.

The fundamental change that occurs in digital development is a shift in attitude from “What’s in it for us?” to “What’s in it for our ecosystem of partners and technologies?” We have the experiences that can inspire leaders to think through the value and impact of technologies as part of their business development. In our experience five key building blocks are needed to enable a successful digital strategy. 

1. Get back to the basics of business

Whether companies want to increase digitalization, test new technologies, or create better customer experiences, companies must still master the basics of business success – also in digital initiatives. To stay ahead, companies must ensure that their basic understanding of the technology landscape is in place. Can too many digital initiatives be a bad thing? Sometimes companies do so many different projects and new initiatives that they have no clue what’s actually having the impact that they wanted.

2. Engage the right people and employees in what you consider to change

Companies need to understand the big picture of the stakeholder-oriented digital vision, gap analysis and roadmap development. Be clear on the estimated business outcome of the first milestone or digital prototype, and then go on with the second milestone. How do you align operative controlling units to business or stakeholder units?

Tell people what you do! People engage more when they know their opinion matters, and when they believe their ideas will benefit themselves or the business. Engaging the movement of digital should be an invitation to explore how digital initiatives are helping the business to take the leap into the industry 4.0.

Ask yourself: How can you do digital better? How do you convince the value of a more integrated and tech-driven business to the wider organization? How do you cultivate a data-driven culture?

3. Plan for increasing digital transformation investments

Digital transformation is becoming one of the largest drivers of technology investments. No matter what industry your company operates in, your company can’t survive without technology. Digital technologies are a catalyst, but technologies alone will not bring the wanted value. Companies need to rethink business processes, adopt digital tools to achieve strategic goals, establish ecosystems for innovation, and the organization will most likely need new skills. In other words, increases in digital investments are needed to push companies onto a higher growth journey and a broader range of innovation-related investments are central to easier adaptation of new skills, collaborations and ideas.

4. Create value, not just hype

The industry 4.0 can be a tough technology landscape to navigate, leaving leaders scouting for every opportunity to transform their business. The critical element is how the technologies are combined to create new services or solutions that give companies an edge to differentiate in an increasingly connected economy. There’s too much hype about digital transformation and data-driven decision making and not enough action. Are you ready to move from hype to action? While you are reading this, your competitors are moving towards a more data-driven culture and using actionable knowledge that drives better customer experiences.

Design thinking methodology and toolset is bringing a new perspective to business planning, experimentation and transformation. By using design thinking, you can move away from hyped talk of transformation and have an action-based approach to your digital decisions and solve problems through easily understandable processes.

5. Resilience matters - Break you big problems into smaller problems

In the industry 4.0, it is central that companies can handle all kinds of opportunities and challenges if they want to succeed. Companies have a big challenge: to create a resilience framework for ecosystems that advance economic and technological development of the business and accelerate growth. But focusing on results alone is not enough. Business executives need to align purpose, culture, performance, and processes within their organizations. That’s how resilient organizations stay ahead of the latest trends by adapting them to their business before the competitors does.

  • How do you build a resilient organization?
  • Are you seeing opportunities and challenges before anyone else?

Build a small bet culture. Many wins are not major disruptions, but iterative and incremental developments. In short, small wins takes place all the time – and you still win big.

The fundamental change that occurs in digital development is a shift in attitude from “What’s in it for us?” to “What’s in it for our ecosystem of partners and technologies?”

Food for thought: Questions to ask

  • What are some of the concrete tech-related initiatives happening in your business right now?
  • How can you ensure that your company focuses on and delivers successful digital initiatives?
  • How do you deliver high-quality and cost-effective digital services?
  • How big is the impact of your latest digital decision? And can you break it into smaller decisions?
  • What is the cost of making a digital mistake? What is the potential outcome?
  • Who do you need to engage and how do you engage them? Can you find the right people to drive your digital initiatives?
  • What are the potential risks of waiting? What is the potential value acting now?