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The Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4, has revolutionised the way we look at business and the way that we share ideas across platforms.

While many people are afraid of the changes that are associated with Industry 4.0, there are many benefits that cannot be looked past. These include connectivity, ease of access to financial services as well as enhanced distribution channels which makes doing business from Istanbul with a client in Auckland simple and painless.

Centralised intelligence.

Industry 4.0 has brought business intelligence to the fore.

The article points out that central to the idea of technology solutions enabling Industry 4.0 is the provision of intelligent solutions to ‘the edge’ – at the point where work is done.

This is especially true for the transportation & logistics, retail, manufacturing, and healthcare industries, where important work and services are performed at the edge, rather than at the back-end or data centre or even at corporate headquarters.

Technology innovation is helping to determine survival and success of enterprises in the digital economy brought about by Industry 4.0, from the manufacturing floor to the point of consumption (including homes).

Tom Bianculli, CTO of Zebra Technologies, told Enterprise Innovation that the future of work is really about taking the friction out of work – from augmented to autonomous technologies – to provide frictionless workflow, productivity and efficiencies.

Wearables, sensors and integrated data are some examples of how technologies are helping frontline workers to be better at what they do.

Key solutions that Zebra provides include Android-based mobile solutions, scanning, printing, RFID and location-based solutions. The company is a leader in using RFID to track people and things in motion, with R&D into machine vision to augment and enhance identification, monitoring and tracking.

“Brick-n-mortar retailers need to deal through ‘flow centres’ with intelligent sensing to detect what items are on the shelves, for real-time inventory management and availability,” explained Bianculli.

RFID barcode readers are already a staple, and robots that roam the store using machine vision to provide real-time store environment would be a major advancement.

“In the manufacturing space, the same technologies can be used to identify active and passive tags for raw material used in the assembly process, to ensure the right material are getting to the right stations at the right time,” he continued. “What is it and where is it – these are pressing questions from manufacturers. To be efficient and productive, persistent or constant visibility is required.”

“As new technologies continue to transform the front line of business, real-time data-driven signals at the edge of operations are empowering front-line workers with the right information to optimize actions and outcomes,” said Bianculli.

Based on Zebra’s second annual global Intelligent Enterprise Index release in late 2018, Bianculli saw more companies acknowledging the value of leveraging IoT strategies and believes they will continue to propel adoption and investment in the future.

Asia Pacific trends.

The enterpriseinnovation.net article points out that some key Asia Pacific findings from the Index include:

IoT investment is up, and resistance to adoption is down.

The Index reveals for those companies surveyed, their average annual spend on IoT is up 4% year-over-year globally, while it was a 12% increase in Asia-Pacific.

86% of the companies surveyed globally expect that number to increase in the next 1-2 years, with nearly half anticipating investment growth of 11-20%.

Enterprises are driving a performance edge with real-time guidance.

The article adds that 52% of respondents globally say information from their IoT solutions is shared with employees in real or near-real time. This is up 37% from last year’s Index, underscoring the increased need for collaborative mobile workflows.

Empowering the front-line.

Notably, organizations are empowering their front-line with actionable data as 32%of the respondents say they provide insights to the front-line workers

Ryan Goh, vice-president and general manager, Asia Pacific, Zebra Technologies, said: “We live in a world where the line is blurring between the digital and the physical. At our fingertips is the ability to instantly hail car-services, replenish household items, and transfer payments.”

The article adds that this ‘hyper’ level of personalization, convenience and information has given rise to demanding consumers with high expectations of what they want, when, where, and how they want it.

“These rising expectations are fuelling the on-demand economy,” Goh added. “To win with customers, businesses have to innovate – and digital is their best weapon. These innovations often generate enormous volumes of real-time data, which are then used to create new, break-through on-demand experiences. And the cycle begins again.”

“As businesses in the region urgently innovate and transform on a large scale, it is imperative for them to find a partner that has done this before and is the leader in edge products and solutions.”

Challenges.

The digital edge is transforming business across industries today. The new normal is for industry leaders and visionaries to leverage their investment capital, brand equity, balance sheets, and ambition to make bold moves to redefine their businesses, their categories, and the kinds of experiences they deliver.

The article points out that it’s not just the movers and shakers that are transforming and taking advantage of shifts at the edge, disrupting not only their own markets, but other industries as well. Businesses of all kinds, across industries, are recognizing the opportunity in this new era and preparing to change, knowing that if they wait, they’ll be left behind.

The key hurdles to digitizing operations to bring intelligence to the edge are not technological issues, but more about what changes need to be made within the organization.

“ROI on IoT depends very much on how data is used, and what changes are made to the processes based on the data received,” Bianculli told Enterprise Innovation. “Training users, changing processes to meet the new requirements, and using the new insights more effectively are some key aspects.”

“A second challenge is breaking down data siloes within the organization. The answer lies in making the proper investments to do that. Ion a sense, we are in an API economy, as APIs can help unlock data siloes.”

The future of the CIO.

One thing that industry 4.0 has introduced is the role of the Chief Information Officer and the importance of this role in a tech enabled company.

The article points out that, as the role of a CIO continues to become more consultative and with a greater emphasis on working hand-in-hand with the CEO to drive business results, he or she is often expected to align strategies and tactics to:

  • Leverage technology to drive the greatest possible business outcomes;
  • Enable cultural transformation within teams; and
  • Exemplify resourcefulness

Expectations are high, and with good reason: the modern CIO who can successfully take on these challenges and turn them into opportunities will be the alchemist-in-chief who propels their company towards becoming a digital leader in a rapidly-evolving business and technology landscape – and enables the harnessing of all the growth, acceleration and profitability that can follow.

Ways to beat the system.

The enterpriseinnovation.net article points out that there are three ways to meet and surpass these expectations:

Blending technology expertise and business acumen.

From cars to cloud computing, everything is turning hybrid – including a CIO’s role. The modern CIO understands that he or she will need to use a combination of technology expertise and business acumen to drive strategic corporate growth plans, and help the business find its competitive edge.

The article points out that organizations in which the IT team works proactively with lines of business report 80% more revenue growth from established product lines – and 90% greater revenue growth from new product lines. It comes as no surprise that many CIOs are already focused on achieving this, increasingly devoting their time to strategic tasks while maintaining oversight of IT operations.

In this journey towards blending technology field expertise with business acumen, CIOs often look to their CEOs as key partners who can guide them to a deeper understanding of the business and its pain points and growth opportunities.

The article adds that, of course, this relationship is a two-way street: CEOs should also be more attuned to the broader IT needs of the organization, in order to be better-placed to make and support informed decisions that will benefit the entire company.

It is pleasing to see that the number of CIOs sitting on their company’s executive committee has jumped from 38% in 2005 to 62% in 2017, and that their attendance at board meetings is now increasingly the norm: the stronger the partnership between the CIO and CEO, the greater the benefits that the organization will reap in the long run.

 

Enabling cultural transformation.

The article points out that, increasingly, the modern CIO is also looked to to help drive cultural transformation within their companies – to help guide the overall workforce through digital, IT and security changes and ensure that each team has both the skills and the mindset to succeed.

In research by Gartner, at least 8 in 10 CIOs at top-performing organizations have responsibilities outside the IT domain, in areas such as innovation and enterprise change.

The article adds that it makes complete sense for the CIO to be a natural advocate for, and leader of, cultural transformation: such change and preparedness is vital to the ultimate success of transformation initiatives, as is the imperative that the entire organization understands the goals and is happy to get on-board.

Two key pillars of that cultural transformation are the importance of learning and collaboration.

Employees across the business will be challenged to adopt new skills and learn from a broader spectrum of colleagues in the digital transformation era. In addition, transformation is very much a team-sport, affecting the whole company and depending on cross-functional engagement and support for its ultimate success.

By promoting and sustaining these key pillars in their companies, CIOs will help to build empowered teams that are stronger and more capable in the face of adversity – and better placed to deliver the transformative outcomes the business is looking for.

Being resourceful.

The article points out that the transformation imperative is driving steadily-growing IT budgets: good news for CIOs, as more and more is expected of them. CIOs in this region can expect their IT budgets to grow by 3.5% in 2019, according to Gartner, although this is still a significant drop from the 5.1% increase that was forecast in 2018.

A possible hindrance: close to half of APJ senior executives acknowledge that there are significant barriers keeping CIOs from collaborating more closely with their CFOs on IT transformation – with 45% of those executives believing that a lack of business expertise among CIOs contributes to this poor collaboration.

The article adds that this – and the fact that relatively few organizations assign a dedicated budget to digital transformation – shows how CIOs will need to continue to be masters of resourcefulness, influence and diplomacy as they seek cross-functional support to bring transformational initiatives to life, while attempting to do more with less.

It is clear that today’s CIOs are shouldering a broader set of hopes and expectations than their predecessors. As companies realize that IT should not be relegated to a mere supporting role, the CIO’s job has become a lot more interesting, not to mention strategic.

After years of being undervalued, their time is now: watch as the CIO-alchemists turn their hand from managing IT hardware to driving greater revenues, profitability and growth for the companies they serve.

“Two things need to be observed. Through industry 4.0, the world is a businessman’s playground. Profits can be found anywhere in the world and customers cannot be put into specific boxes. While this is challenging, it is advantageous. The role of the CIO is to drive and guide the company as a second in command into a new age. If this was the Starship Enterprise, the CIO would be the Dr Spock to the CEOs Captain Kirk. The future of this role is immense and will only gain in prominence as security becomes an issue. We live in an interesting world indeed,” said GTconsult Co-Founder and CEO Bradley Geldenhuys.