4 Keys to Succeeding in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

When an industry is about to go through transformation, there’s an opportunity to be the first to spot the change and take advantage of that understanding, according to Mia de Kuijper of Salesforce, speaking at 2019 YPO EDGE in Cape Town, South Africa.

We are in the throes of change right now — the Fourth Industrial Revolution — and the change is not stopping anytime soon.

“While previous industrial revolutions may have been more similar in terms of getting a handle on the change — the transition to steam, the transition to electricity, or to computing — this revolution is very, very different. It’s about all of us being connected,” says de Kuijper. “And it’s not just the way we are connected with our customers. Our customers are now talking to each other without us even knowing what they are talking about.”

The underlying drivers of being connected are changing everything we do. We are using information, data sensors and deep learning to gain insight and drive a better experience. But this connectedness is also causing disruption, breaking down industry walls, creating new business models and new ecosystems.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is creating new mandates for leadership and businesses — from customer expectations, to changing business models, to the way we work. It is important that CEOs are aware of the transformation mindset their businesses are currently in, and of the actions they need to take to thrive.


So how can leaders succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Here are four key points de Kuijper challenged EDGE participants to consider:

  1. Understand the 4IR challenges for your company — Start with a deep look at what is happening in your industry, adjacent industries, and your customer base.  Investigate and understand rapid changes in customer preferences, in technology and new business model possibilities.
  2. Identify your Transformation Mindset — Are you reinventing your company and ecosystem, or are you stuck in a mode of continuous most improvement? Often the part of your company that is contributing most to current profitability is not what will contribute to growth and future profitability.
  3. Develop your Transformation Disciplines — Once you understand what mindset you are in, what disciplines do you need to develop and what strategic initiatives do you have in motion that are aligned to these disciplines?
  4. Put customers at the center of everything you do — You must look at your business through a customer-centric lens. Customer centricity is key to how you will innovate and reshape your business in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The changes that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is introducing will only continue to increase speed. “The moment we are prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we had better start getting ready for the next Industrial Revolution,” says de Kuijper. Those who see the changes coming first can leverage them best.

Watch Mia de Kuijper share examples of companies ahead of the curve when it comes to customer experience in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the following video:

Want to learn more about innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and beyond? Check our YPO Innovation Week events and register now to reserve a seat for in-person or digital events at https://www.ypoinnovationweek.com/.

An experienced writer with a background in public relations, Vicky enjoys writing about brands, the people that give them life, and about business topics that matter to senior executives. Vicky is the senior manager of content at YPO.