Competitiveness no longer depends on optimisation of an organisation’s resources
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution economy, an organisation’s competitiveness no longer depends solely on optimisation of its own resources, but total inter-organisational value chain innovativeness and supportive partner knowledge, technologies, products, services and systems. Industry 4.0 is characterised by increasing digitisation and interconnection of value chains, products and business models. With the aid of partners, organisations are co-creating innovative inter-organisational value and supply chains that operate in a local, regional and international collaborative business ecosystem. Competitiveness is gained by collaboratively performing strategic activities more effectively and efficiently. To achieve success organisations are compelled to transform and change by abolishing bureaucratic practices and structures while adopting knowledge-based learning paradigms and designs.
This demands exceptional governance, supported by transformational leadership excellence and knowledge of systemic programme management. Effective and efficient cross-functional and inter-organisational management of projects and programmes in virtual networks of partners emerged as a critical enabling competency for entities operating in the Industry 4.0 economy. This is centred on people, collaboration and building relationships in order to create successful virtual networks of partners. The complexity of modern technologies, i.e., robotics, artificial intelligence, mass data, internet of things, integrating information technology and operations technology, etc., calls for specialisation and sustainable collaboration among partner organisations and demands exceptional talents and well-educated human resources.
Consequently, organisational design, development and governance have entered a challenging new phase. In view of these emerging realities, strategic transformation and change of Industry 4.0 organisations become inevitable and demand the introduction of virtual horizontally shaped supply and value chain business models. Virtual value chains shape organisations into strategic, collaborative, value-driven entities where non-core activities are performed by carefully selected partners. The organisational value system guiding the preferred leadership behaviour is a crucial element. When choosing partners it is of paramount importance to select those that have the same or similar value systems as your own organisation to ensure synergy in culture and transformational leadership acumen.
In the emerging Industry 4.0 economy organisations experiencing a dearth of transformational leadership will have difficulty in maintaining and improving their levels of operational productivity and strategic benefit realisation. Transformational leaders create a shift away from old motivations of bureaucratic powers, towards inspiring people to believe in a vision of economic and social progress. They balance their attention between actions that create progress and the motivation of virtual team members. Moreover, they possess unique qualities suited to the Industry 4.0 economic dispensation and act as mentors and coaches while providing direction to virtual networks of partner teams. This creates trust and support, keeping members motivated despite the complexity and high risk associated with Industry 4.0.
Design has always been a core responsibility of organisations. Leaders and managers have a duty to ensure that design for customer needs delivers a competitive advantage. In the Industry 4.0 economy, an effective and efficient design capability has emerged as an important competitive key success factor due to the advent of modern process technologies and virtual partner networks. Product, service and process design and development have become complex and highly important competitive factors. When creation of the product or service is completed and a commercialisation strategy for its production and marketing been established, attention is turned to designing and developing the operational process for order fulfilment. Product, service and process design and development are best achieved by utilising a supply chain-based cross-functional project and programme management approach.
Partnering has become profoundly important in the Industry 4.0 economy. Partner organisations come from small-, medium- and large-sized organisations. Great opportunities are emerging for the creation of new small and medium-sized entrepreneurial enterprises. This boosts much-needed job creation opportunities and grows the economy in the right direction. Importantly, it dispels the notion that modern technology will lead to job losses (after all the steam engine led to massive job creation in the Industry 1.0 economy). Consequently, entrepreneurship has a pivotal and highly important role in the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution. Entrepreneurs use creative faculties to generate new products or services and exploit a new generation of opportunities in the developing collaborative market.
In summary, it is profoundly clear that modern technologies and its effect on product, service and process design have a significant influence on how the Industry 4.0 organisation is shaped, lead, managed and governed. Organisations are compelled to abandon bureaucracy in favour of knowledge-based learning paradigms. Human talent must be better educated and skilled to cope with the new situation. Processes are structured cross-functionally and programme-managed. Cross-functional processes incorporate collaborative virtual networks of partners to improve organisational effectiveness and efficiency, leading to much-improved competitiveness. Moreover, partnering boosts small and medium-sized enterprise creation and concomitant job creation. The resulting transformation and change hold profound benefits for society.
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