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2020 Fourth Industrial Revolution Benchmark

2020 Fourth Industrial Revolution Benchmark

The 2020 Fourth Industrial Revolution Benchmark, by KPMG Digital Delta in collaboration with Faethm, provides insights on the uptake and understanding of advanced technologies, as well as perspectives on the challenges and enablers to adoption that Australian business leaders face as they digitally transform their organisations, investments and people into the future.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Technological advances are merging the physical, digital and biological spheres to create a new epoch in human development that will bring immense opportunities and serious threats. Nations, organisations and policy-makers face a tipping point as the speed and depth of the 4IR redraws our understanding of how to create value for economies and people.

Understanding the rate of adoption of advanced technologies from the 4IR is a challenge for many business leaders. The 2020 Fourth Industrial Revolution Benchmark represents research we have undertaken with Australian business leaders to understand their levels of adoption and outlook as it relates to a range of advanced technologies including Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, robotics, quantum computing, 3D printing, nanotechnology, augmented reality, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, digital twins, cloud computing and 5G.

The aim of the 2020 Fourth Industrial Revolution Benchmark is to help Australian leaders understand the state of adoption of 4IR technologies, and the ways they are transforming businesses, investments and our people into the future.

Our research survey reveals that most Australian business leaders lack a deep understanding or experience with the technologies, and less than half feel their organisation is strongly prepared for technological change.

Key findings

While the concept of the 4IR is known to most – business leaders lack a deep understanding or experience with the technologies.

  • Four in 10 feel they have either an ‘excellent’ (12%) or ‘good’ (32%) understanding of the concept. However, the remainder know only little (47%) or have not even heard of the concept (9%).
  • Many business leaders do not feel prepared for change associated with 4IR – with staff skills a key barrier.
  • Less than half (46%) feel their organisation is strongly prepared for technological change.
  • Only four in 10 (38%) feel they have staff with the necessary skills to implement new technologies.
  • Leaders who understand the concept well, recognise the impact, and are more prepared for it.
  • 44% have a strong understanding of the concept and rate their readiness for change much higher (57% rate high preparedness vs 36%).
  • There are many reasons for adoption of 4IR technologies – with customer experience (CX) improvements a key driver.
  • Improving CX is the key reason behind adoption of 4IR technologies (selected by 75%).
  • CX is seen as the area of greatest impact on businesses (4.3 out of 5), over products and services, innovation, operating model (all 4.1) and workforce (3.9).

Challenges and enablers

"The rapid acceleration in the capabilities, usage and effects of AI, robotics, IoT and other advanced technologies represents a fundamental change in the way we live, work, and relate to one another. The lack of readiness among Australian organisations is concerning. Change is already taking place, and it’s critical that business leaders understand these technologies and how to harness them to remain locally and globally competitive."

Piers Hogarth-Scott
Partner, KPMG Digital Delta

Staff, legacy technologies and capital are seen as the biggest challenges to adoption of 4IR technologies. While companies with strong 4IR awareness cite technology complexity as one of the top three challenges for adoption, companies with weak 4IR understanding see lack of capital for new investment as a main impediment.

Leadership, staff and strategy are seen as the biggest enablers across all business types. Businesses with strong 4IR awareness realise they will need to build on the capabilities of their workforce to further support growth.

"While the approach to implementation depends largely on the business model and needs, a business-wide technology strategy is necessary to reach more mature levels of implementation. Regardless of the industry and the position, life-long learning will be a necessary condition for future employment and companies that support strategy-building in this regard can add great value for businesses and employees alike.”

Michael Priddis
CEO, Faethm

© 2020 KPMG, an Australian partnership and a member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”) is a Swiss entity. Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm.

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