4IR has been met with both enthusiasm and fence-sitting. While sentiments and experiences have been mixed, most business leaders are now approaching 4IR with a sense of measured optimism. While they recognize the potential value and business boost advanced manufacturing technologies can present—particularly robotics, the industrial internet of things (IIoT), cloud computing, advanced analytics, 3D printing, virtual and augmented reality—they are still deliberating how and where to invest and balancing the hype with their own level of preparedness. Meanwhile, they’re also well aware of the significant changes 4IR will bring to a new manufacturing workforce—one that is increasingly becoming a hybrid of human and machine.
PwC and The Manufacturing Institute (the workforce and thought leadership arm of the National Association of Manufacturers), surveyed approximately 100 US-based manufacturers. Looking at the results, we see a definitive—and, indeed, inevitable—shift to 4IR as companies seek to integrate new technologies into their operations, supply chain and product portfolio. However, these companies acknowledge that scaling, justifying 4IR investments and dealing with uncertainty surrounding use cases and applications present a new set of challenges.
For many industries, the window is still open for emerging 4IR leaders, and the very nature of 4IR rewards those who understand how to operate in this new digital environment. Some businesses will realize that embracing 4IR can help create efficiencies in operations, while others may see possibilities open through revenue-generating 4IR-related products and services. Additionally, an economic slowdown may lure some companies to cut costs in traditional ways that could prevent realizing the growth they need.
PwC can help companies navigating pressing questions surrounding 4IR. With data as the currency of this new era, do your customers and partners trust you to keep theirs safe and to use it responsibly? As demand for employees with the right skills spikes, how will you attract them, upskill existing employees and create new types of jobs more speedily? And, as with any new technology adoption, how sure are you that you’re making the right investments in time and capital—and that they’ll provide the payoff you hope for?
For a broad archive of PwC’s research and insights into 4IR, please visit our 4IReady microsite.
Partner, PwC US
Industrial Products Advisory Leader, PwC US
Principal, Operations Consulting, PwC US
Principal, Digital & Technology Innovation, PwC US
Director, PwC US