Stanton Chase Explores Leadership in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

In May 2016, a 23-year-old woman drove onto a boat launch and landed in the icy waters of a lakein Ontario late at night.1 She was a sober woman of sound mind. The problem? The woman relied on GPS technology to guide her driving route, and she followed the navigation voice directly into the water. Fortunately, she managed a swift escape through her car windows and lived to tell her story; a story of “too much technology”. Other, often more unfortunate and morbid, examples of the increased reliance on technology abound. Whether for good or bad, it is undeniable this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. Technological advances are advancing at such profound speed that experts claim we are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (FIR), also known as Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 comes right on the heels of The Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon. In July 2015, Stanton Chase published “The Internet of Things: Adapting Corporate Culture to Reflect the Connectivity of IoT”2. IoT highlighted a shift in workplace culture by recognizing the exponential growth of devices has become normalized in today’s society. This phenomenon has continued, and in today’s world, IoT is just a small piece of the current FIR. The “Internet of Everything” has replaced the “Internet of Things” to encompass things, data, services, and people. The basic principle of Industry 4.0 is that entire value chains are interconnected by autonomous systems created by intelligent networks of machines and data. Cloud computing is a key feature of this revolution. This new environment includes four components: the internet of things, the internet of data, the internet of services, and the internet of people; these parts have come together in FIR and have witnessed growth and changes at an unparalleled pace.3 The rapid rate of change has necessitated a reevaluation of corporate structure and workplace business practices, particularly within the leadership realm. At its core, FIR strives to reduce the need for human labor, and leaders are grappling with how this changes business dynamics, strategies, and their own roles. The effects of the FIR, and the paramount importance of the right leadership style during this pivotal time cannot be underestimated. 

In Industry 4.0, the ultimate goal is the creation of “Smart Factories”, indicating that automated smart systems will be utilized for the entire production cycle from start to end in the value chain. This is made possible by advancements in data collection techniques that have grown and will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. The exponential growth of stored data, as displayed in the infographic below, illustrates the importance of data creation, collection, and manipulation that is happening in today’s revolution.

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