Preparing for Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is happening now and is impacting how organisations operate. In this report, we investigate the facts around Industry 4.0, what the future holds and what steps companies need to take to ensure they are ready.

What is Industry 4.0?

Where steam power was the driving force behind the industrial revolution and computers have introduced a new way of working since they become available publically in the 1970s, the Internet of Things (IoT) will provide the next industrial revolution. The fourth industrial revolution, better known as Industry 4.0, is a digital transformation that is affecting every level of business, from automated marketing to autonomous robotic manufacturing.

The basic principle of Industry 4.0 is to create intelligent networks across the organisational chain, utilising the power of connectivity to responsively resolve issues as well as streamlining processes to increase return on investment. These changes will begin to reshape the business, economic and workforce landscapes over the next 10-15 years.

It is an exciting time for the heavy industries, manufacturing and technology sectors, one which will entirely transform how they operate.

IOT tech

"Industry 4.0 creates tremendous opportunities for heavy industries and national economies.

Success will be based on a collective understanding of technological developments and their effects on the workforce and the wider organisation"

Luke Robbins-Wells, Chad Harrison International CEO

What does the future consist of?

Industry 4.0’s technologies will impact the national economies and organisations around the globe. The transformation will enable the gathering and analysis of data across assets and machinery, allowing accurate and faster and more efficient processes to produce higher quality products at a reduced cost.

Autonomous robotics

Advancing on the robotic technologies synonymous with the automotive industry, robots will learn from humans. Furthermore, they will have a broader range of capabilities in use today.

Augmented reality

From remote working to supporting the selection of parts and assisting with repairs, augmented reality has numerous uses. Real-time information through augmented systems will help improve decision making and processes.

Big data

Streamlining decisions will be critical to big data gathering customer management systems and will be supported by real-time information.


"Companies which adopt technological advancements during the next decade will experience significant productivity gains."

Callum Taylor, Head of Built Environment - Chad Harrison International.

Cloud solutions

Data sharing between systems and autonomous sites will result in more data-driven services and greater access to company information and collateral, leading to an increase in productivity.

Systems integration

Working collectively with cloud solutions, systems integration allows departments and business functions to become more cohesive.

Internet of things

Bringing it all together is the internet of things. Devices will be able to communicate and interact with each other as well as the human controllers, creating a centralised data distribution hub accessible throughout the globe.

“The Internet of Things will create a healthcare revolution. For a sector that is currently under pressure, the IOT will help healthcare become more efficient, enabling the industry to gather data and report back in real time.”

Damien Davies, Head of Medical Technology - Chad Harrison International.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is still in its nascent state. But with the swift pace of change and disruption to business and society, the time to join in is now.”

Gary Coleman, Global Industry and Senior Client Advisor, Deloitte Consulting

How should companies respond?

It’s crucial that companies take significant steps to retain and attract qualified talent. Industry 4.0 accelerates the competition for talent. A shortfall of qualified candidates and ageing workforce combined create a smaller talent pool from which to choose. Companies must retrain their employees and engage in talent acquisition planning.

Retrain current employees

Technological advancements will dictate that industrial workforces will require regular training in order to keep pace. Training may have to take place in practical settings as well as in the classroom. Augmented reality may improve the way employees learn new skills. Through the use of augmented reality systems, employees will gain a better understanding of the technologies. At the senior management level, accredited and continuous professional development training may be introduced to upskill knowledge, while recent graduates will benefit from in-house training to account for the lack of practical experience.

Adopt new working models

Industry 4.0 introduces new types of interactions between humans and machines. As such, organisational structures will change. Workforces will be able to work more independently of other humans, increasing the flexibility of work schedules. For example, production shift schedules may no longer be dependent on humans working with other humans; instead, it will be with robots. The flexibility of working hours can, therefore, be introduced.

Recruit for Industry 4.0

While retention and retraining of current workforces are essential, attracting the best talent to an organisation will be crucial. Talent acquisition planning and strategies must be perfected. This includes everything from creating an attractive company culture to working with the best talent ambassadors to help with recruitment. Capabilities over qualification will matter more, since educational institutions will often be behind with syllabuses, producing graduates without the necessary practical experience. On the other hand, candidates without the qualifications but with experience of being retrained in other companies will likely be more suitable.

Create leadership succession plans

Technologically knowledgeable leaders will be crucial for organisations. Therefore, each company should have a succession plan outlining the potential new leaders and their skill sets. This should start at the top with the CEO, with each board member having knowledge and experience of industry 4.0 technologies.

How should leaders respond to Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 leaders

E-leaders of the future

A recent report of Chad Harrison International highlighted the tenure for CEOs in Fortune 500 companies is 3.5 years. With that in mind, a company may be approaching its third CEO by 2025 and technical knowledge will be critical to their success.

Organisations in the heavy industries must ensure that their leadership keeps pace with technological advancements. Technical specialists and senior managers are the positions which companies should be applying the fullest extent of their training. They are the E-leaders of tomorrow and will require the awareness of digital opportunities and the associated threats. Leaders ten years from now will need the capabilities and mindset to introduce and harmonise new technologies with current company cultures and attitudes. It will be crucial that they can implement departments and projects which protect the long-term longevity of an organisation, while still maintaining its performance and profitability.

Educational changes

The challenge for educational institutions is ensuring they keep pace with the requirements of the business world. Often syllabuses are slow to react to changes in the industry resulting in theoretical teachings being outdated and unsuitable. Integrated courses which allow crossovers in various disciplines will be necessary, such as IT and engineering. Physics and Maths course leaders should look at how business and IT related coursework can be intertwined.

Universities must listen to the challenges faced by businesses and provide graduates with broader skill sets and useful, practical experience. Traditional apprenticeships and degree apprentices may provide more practically ready, entry-level candidates. The theoretical and practical knowledge may be an advantage over the typical graduate route.

Additionally, politicians should prepare the educational system to support ongoing training and requalification, making it easier for adults to access recognised qualifications. Courses need to be accessed with ease, taking into consideration that traditional off-site learning is not feasible for many. In this sense, educational institutions can take advantage of Industry 4.0 technologies by offering distance, cloud-based and augmented reality (AR) training. The latter allowing people to use AR on the job, learning and completing modules in real-working time.

About Chad Harrison International

Chad Harrison International is a globally focused search firm. With offices in the UK, Germany and Belgium. Our consultants focus on talent acquisition solutions in the Built Environment, Chemical & Life Sciences, Energy, Mining & Metals, Packaging and Technology sectors.

Having placed technical specialists, senior management and C-suite level candidates into leading organisations around the world, we are perfectly placed to analyse the impacts of Industry 4.0 on talent and skill sets.

We Consult, We Search, We Connect. To find out more about how Chad Harrison International can help your organisation, contact our experienced team today.