I was so looking forward to getting stuck in to Deloitte's report, The Industry 4.0 Paradox.

But imagine my surprise and horror when I came to the intro paragraph for the section on Strategy and read the following:

"Most leaders understand that digital transformation can aid strategic growth, but, for them, this translates more to operational improvements than revenue growth—potentially leaving money on the table."

There is so much wrong with that sentence, but let's just look at the biggest blunder:

"Potentially leaving money on the table" misses the point completely!  It suggests that leaders are simply missing a trick and could make a few more bucks if they included revenue generating activities in their digital strategy.

The truth is they are committing their organisations to oblivion if they don't embrace the rapidly advancing digital landscape and integrate it completely into their operations.  It is not an add-on, and it is not a nice-to-have.  Your very survival depends on it.

The BIG Misconception

The trouble is, so many in the corporate world are operating under the misguided illusion that all the breakthoughs in technolgy can be used to improve their operations, increase effeciencies and give them market advantage.  All while using the same basic 20th-Century business model.

If leaders fail to grasp that they will have to reinvent their businesses around these emerging technologies they will lose out to other, fleeter upstart organisations.  They will become irrelevant and then simply disappear. 

This is not being sensational or alarmist.  I have been around the forefront of innovation and technology adoption for nearly 40 years, and I have never seen opportunity or challenge on anything like this scale before.

Business as usual with some enabling technology on the side simply won't cut it.

21st Century Leadership

21st Century leaders know all this, and they know how to handle it too.

A top-down grand digital strategy plan won't work.  

That's the big mistake.  Old-style leadership suggests that we have to create the strategy for others to follow.  In fact, that used to be the definition of leadership - it was all about strategy; management was about tactics.

The new commercial landscape that's unfolding will require a different approach.  It will require leaders who can enable their teams to develop the strategy as it unfolds.  It will require them to have courage, trust and a high tolerance of ambiguity - qualities in short supply in most traditional organisations.

Nothing short of a complete cultural overhaul will enable large organisations to transition to the new commercial age and survive the 4th Industrial Revolution.

I find that a really exciting challenge!


If you'd like to read their report, here are the links:

Download the Executive Summary

The Strategy Paradox