Plenty talk of the wide-scale impact of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), especially on skills and labour markets. But there is a noticeable lack of people offering solutions. Through our skills and labour market research, we are distilling implications and identifying practical solutions.

Don’t get caught in the cogs of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

We’ve entered the initial stages of a Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – the integration of digital technologies, such as computing, internet and mobile solutions, into all sorts of offline physical systems and devices from power grids to cars to medical equipment.

Core to 4IR’s fusion of the cyber and physical realms is the ability of systems and devices to:

  • Function without being manually operated by people;
  • Autonomously engage with the surrounding environment;
  • Interact and work in conjunction with each other.

This process of digital integration is creating the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of interconnected devices that communicate with one other and transfer data via wireless communications systems. Digital integration is transforming our world and the next ten years will render old processes completely defunct.

Markets such as financial services, automotive and retail have already seen the tremendous impact of automation, intelligent systems, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. 4IR will affect the skills needed in every industry from manufacturing to defence to transportation. It’s not a question of whether businesses need to respond, it’s a question of how and how soon.

Today’s companies must revise their approach to adopting technology and talent acquisition to carve out a comparative advantage and effectively pursue new business strategies. We’ve identified four factors which will power future success:

  1. IP-Driven Business Models – 4IR will put pressure on companies historically outside the tech sphere to focus on the design and development of new proprietary technologies, operating processes and original content. Intellectual Property (IP) generation through R&D activity and its ownership with the additional prospect of licensing opportunities to other parties will be crucial in gaining a comparative advantage against industry competitors.
  2. Business-Technology (BIS-Tech) Ambassadors – Demand is growing for tech-savvy business leaders with ambassadorial and cross-cultural skills who can bridge the worlds of business and technology. These individuals typically demonstrate expertise in both academic research and business management and hold joint degrees in a science or engineering discipline at the graduate and MBA levels.
  3. IoT Skills are Key to Future Success – New technologies will require companies to overhaul the skill-sets of their existing workforces. HR requirements will be strikingly different in 2 – 5 years’ time; companies cognisant of these issues at the outset will be preparing their talent pipelines now to avoid the pending skills crisis.
  4. Global Technology and Talent Sourcing – The establishment of a network of global technology-skills R&D and product development (PD) hubs is becoming a differentiating factor for success across industries. Such systems enable companies to

i) tap into best-in-class technologies and R&D talent available worldwide.

ii) engage the smartest people who can turn those tech innovations into product and service innovations.

iii) pursue localisation strategies which can customise products and services to fit the tastes and preferences of customers in regional markets.


Contact us to find out how we can help you get to grips with 4IR


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Oxford Strategic Consulting, 30 St Giles’, Oxford OX1 3LE