Tablet factory
  • Douglas Gates, Leadership |

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution unleashes exciting new capabilities for businesses in every industry, I’m sure you’ll agree that unprecedented change for this historic new era is inevitable.

But as I point out in our latest KPMG report, A Reality Check for Today’s C-suite on Industry 4.0,  my daily encounters with business leaders continue to reveal a gap between ambition and reality regarding today’s diverse i4.0 initiatives.

Sure, many businesses are blazing a bold and strategic path to holistic, interconnected, enterprise-wide Industry 4.0 capabilities. And their future is no doubt promising. But my vantage point also reveals too many examples of potential i4.0 progress that’s being thwarted by a lack of strategic direction, misdirected investment, confusion, fear of disruption and more. It’s not a pretty picture.

It should be obvious to all of us by now that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is truly that – a historic revolution. I4.0 is unleashing its incredible potential through the convergence of IoT-driven technologies, big data, augmented decision-making and advanced automation. We are in the midst of a true paradigm shift in business interconnectivity and performance.

But I can tell you that our latest research exposes – among most businesses – a lack of progress that’s too familiar and far too risky. A ‘false sense of security’ prevails as most manufacturers implement narrowly focused, tech-led, bottom-up initiatives with an eye to only cost takeout and not transformation. Ultimately, they are entirely missing the point of i4.0 and its incredible potential.

And, I would go a step further to suggest that time is running short for some. If you are not well on your way to smart manufacturing by the end of this decade, you face a very real threat to your future success – and perhaps survival. My call to action for business leaders in every industry is that holistic, enterprise-wide smart-manufacturing strategies can only begin in the C-suite – not on the factory floor. Approach today’s change environment as an overarching business issue – not simply the latest IT innovation wave.

My hope is that our latest report will resonate with every manufacturing leader who wants to avoid falling farther behind on the Industry 4.0 change curve. I leave you with our report’s candid key take-aways, which I share with a sense of urgency on the need for strategic change:

1. Build holistic strategy from the corner office, not the plant floor.
2. Redesign your organization from functional siloes to value networks.
3. Create a dynamic culture embracing the enterprise value of new digital technologies.
4. Rethink your current KPIs – it’s time to redefine how to measure success.

The C-suite needs to become bolder in its vision, strategy and actions today to drive truly historic, unprecedented change for tomorrow. And time is of the essence.