Companies increasingly expect that embracing 4IR will deliver results and greater resilience—and they’re right to do so. For those companies that have invested in digital initiatives, revenue growth and reduced costs are the top expected benefits. Returns on 4IR investment can also yield intangible forms of growth beyond the top and bottom lines, including improved workplace safety and overall employee experience.
When a 4IR strategy is designed and carried out correctly, it’s agile and resilient, capable of incorporating tomorrow’s new technology (and new business models) with as little disruption or redesign as possible, while adapting quickly to changing customer expectations, preferences and demands. This is what PwC helps organizations to achieve.
For many companies striving to become 4IR players, it may be necessary to look outside their organizations: partnerships and strategic acquisitions can make changes happen more swiftly. 4IR-related deal announcements more than doubled from 418 in 2013 to 992 in 2017, even as overall deal activity grew by less than one-third over the same period. Such activity is not limited to tech companies: most of the mid-sized 4IR deals, in fact, occurred in non-technology sectors—including industrials and materials and healthcare.
Being 4IR ready also has the potential to build a defense against swings of economic cycles. In a recession or growth slowdown, 4IR could well help increase productivity and reduce labor costs (and, therefore, protect or even widen margins) to offset diminished revenues. During upcycles, 4IR could better position businesses to expand portfolios of new digital and data-tethered products and services or ramp up automation to reduce dependence on a tight labor market.
4IR technology is enabling businesses to make their operations and supply chains more transparent and efficient—and in real-time. They are beginning to anticipate disruptions before they happen, such as a ship delayed at a port—so they can adjust more swiftly.