Investing in a 4IR ecosystem of connected and intelligent things... and people

While it’s true that 4IR solutions are already moving beyond prototypes and pilots and are delivering results, they're only doing so in those businesses that are harnessing their potential. Blending these disparate technologies to advance strategic goals is one of the key challenges of being 4IReady. Quite simply, there is no off-the-shelf “4IR kit,” and each adopter has unique needs defying one-size-fits-all solutions. For example, a food distributor could use IoT technology to monitor the condition of produce shipped to stores, an automaker might leverage blockchain technology to simplify parts recalls and a logistics firm could explore using autonomous drones for last-mile delivery. Clearly, this is no longer just a job for IT workers.

Investments in 4IR technology totaled over $646 billion from 2012 to 2018
4IR technology investments have been increasing steadily from 2012 to 2018

When it comes to getting 4IReady, nobody can succeed in a silo. 4IR requires assembling the right people—typically a large and diverse group with a vast array of different skill sets. Viewing projects through numerous perspectives not only builds a consensus on the right 4IR use cases, but it also cultivates a new mindset of collaboration across an organization.

Because being 4IReady extends beyond how things are made and sold, it permeates all aspects of business. Robotic process automation (RPA) projects, for instance, can yield quick wins and significant return on investment in the tax function. Machine learning can be incorporated into the audit process to analyze transactions. And advanced analytics and AI are revolutionizing fraud detection.

Most 4IR technologies are maturing quickly, becoming less costly to adopt, and market-tested across numerous industries. Adopting these technologies ought to be a main priority for virtually any business moving into a recession.

Mohamed KandeVice Chair, US and Global Advisory Leader, PwC US

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