It’s always interesting to read through media-derived survey studies to identify any helpful takeaways. At times, depending on the study’s structure, the data can shine a light on key market influences and dynamics that help drive business and market strategy. While at other times, the data throws shade on the environment especially from what’s left out of the analysis.

Recently, Forbes Insights and Deloitte surveyed more than 1,600 executives in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and EMEA asking them to share their views on four major areas affected by Industry 4.0 including social impact, strategy, workforce, and technology.  Here are two interesting points from that study and my perspective on what’s missing.

  • Readiness and preparedness for Industry 4.0: 6% of APAC executives say they are highly confident they can harness these changes versus 30% of North American executives.

I personally find this statistic misleading due to cultural differences. Traditionally, APAC leaders are more humble than their Nort America counterparts. Think about U.S. car manufacturing executives confidently ruling the industry until, one day, Toyota blasted them from their perch.

I don’t have hard data, but what I glean from my research indicates the APAC region, especially the Chinese, Indian and Japanese governments, are investing significantly in Industry 4.0 technologies.  At a minimum, I can’t imagine that APAC executives are any more or less confident than their U.S. counterparts. Either U.S. executives are falsely imagining their organizations are prepared and the APAC executives are actually assessing reality, or cultural dynamics have not been weighed into the studies analysis. In either case, I don’t take much away from this data point.   

  • Workforce of the future: Another area of disagreement was the extent to which human involvement will be required in the Industry 4.0 workforce, with those believing that human involvement in the production and movement of goods and services will remain significant ranging from 41% for APAC to 71% for North America and 77% for Latin America.

There are significant political pressures on statements alluding to automation replacing human involvement esepically among lower-skilled populations.  Executives are smart to avoid these toxic environments. In addition, most technologies, especially the IoT, require human involvement since the real value gained is through the use of the data captured and analyzed from connected devices. Even with AI and machine learning, that is still years away from really transforming industry 4.0, the last mile of business decision making still requires human involvement. Combined, these two points are driving the higher percentages in the Americas while for APAC there is a less political concern. For these reasons, the data points seem misleading.

Read the full article highlighting the study at and feel free to draw your own conclusions from the data.

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