One topic that has conjured much discussion is the fourth industrial revolution, also commonly known as the Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 is transforming economies, businesses, jobs and even society itself. Smart and connected technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of Things (loT), are not only being embedded in organisations, but also our daily lives.
Together with machine learning, robotics and automation, these technologies have become the new normal.
It is no different in private banking. At Bank of Singapore, we have been investing in these technologies to personalise and customise our services to further embed ourselves in the lifestyles of our high net worth clients. We will invest S$200 million in this space as I told Singapore’s financial daily, The Business Times, in an interview last year.
With the rapid changes brought about by Industry 4.0, it is then natural for leaders to wonder if the leadership playbook that was previously effective is still relevant.
The question – What does a leader need to strive in this age of Industry 4.0? – is often brought up in candid exchange of views with my peers.It is also a question that I ask myself from time to time to take stock as we progress along our Bank of Singapore 4.0 journey to harness our potential.
Here are the three timeless principles that I believe a leader should bear in mind during this time of disruption.
1. Understand the technology, but focus on the bigger picture
With the proliferation of the technological hype, companies are racing ahead with 4.0 initiatives of every shape and size. No one wants to be left behind. Not surprisingly, the value of the 4.0 technology market is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years from US$67 billion in 2016 to US$152 billion by 2022.
While it is important that leaders thoroughly understand and integrate technology such as AI and robotics into their businesses, it is integral that they have sight of the bigger picture – Why are they pursuing change in the first place?
Go back to the basics – have a clear understanding of your business goals and a roadmap for the future. The journey cannot begin without these two elements. Do not be blinded by the technological hype. Focus on the opportunities to enhance performance and value across the entire spectrum of the value chain.
Technology, no matter how advanced, should be the enabler of your strategy. Not the other way round.
2. Be bold – aim to be a great leader and not just a good leader
A decade ago, nobody would have thought that a company could be valued at hundreds of millions without owning much physical assets. The likes of Alibaba and AirBnB have proven that it is possible. They changed the way that we take transport, and seek accommodation.
In Industry 4.0, leaders will again have this opportunity to be bold and re-imagine how customers consume services to differentiate their businesses. With competition intensifying, leaders need to prioritise innovation – or risk losing ground.
As part of this process of re-imagination, internal practices, structures and even key performance indicators need to be reviewed and aligned.
3. Don’t forget the human touch
Industry 4.0 will bring about major changes in how organisations work. To succeed, the element of ‘people’ cannot be undermined. There will be concerns and questions among the teams as the organisation powers forward.
Will I lose my job?
Is such a big change necessary?
What are the new skills that I need to learn to stay relevant?
Communication in Industry 4.0 will take on greater prominence. Keep your people updated on the goals, the progress as well as the potential pitfalls. Consider more informal avenues such as small team gatherings, ad hoc visits to engage them, to hear their concerns and celebrate small wins.
Using digital platforms to disseminate messages is efficient, but may seem impersonal. Meeting face-to-face shows sincerity and allows you to convey your thoughts more clearly, leaving lesser room for misinterpretation.
Put yourself in the shoes of an employee and you will know that especially in times of uncertainty, the importance of the human touch cannot be overstated.
People are ultimately any organisation’s most important asset. They are the enablers of technology and the driving force of an organisation.
So, never forget the human touch.Disclaimer applicable to recommendation
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