4IR was a huge topic before covid-19 hit, and the lockdowns forced us to face the digitisation of our businesses, urgently. Working remotely has accelerated the pace at which we 4th industrialised our businesses and if you aren’t quite sure what to digitise or how to do it – read on.
It’s about technology enablement.
In its simplest form, it’s about enabling the performance of your business through technology. This includes software, hardware and connectivity. Technology doesn’t make anything happen. Technology enables something to happen. To do so, its needs to be developed, programmed, connected and ‘switched on’! Imagine you have a bakery and make 1,000 loaves of bread a day. You have three options in your baking process.
A: Get up at 3am to mix the dough, switch on the oven, load the baking trays, put them in the oven, take them out at 6am, pack them onto your shelf and serve customers from 6.30am. Or….
B: You can instruct staff to do it for you but run the risk of wrong ingredients, missed steps in the baking process and enidng up with either inconsistent quality or the bread being late for the 6.30am deadline. Or…
C: Program the oven to switch on automatically at 3am, have the ingredients to make the dough decant into the mixer in sequence. The mixer blends and produces the dough which automatically empties into baking trays that slide into the oven and remain there until the bread is baked. At that point, the bread is conveyed into a vending machine that allows customers to pay using their debit card or phone. With each sale, your bank account linked to your accounting software updates your financial position in the business.
Technology, properly designed and connected, automates the entire process using software and hardware (baking equipment, conveyer belts, vending machines etc).
Importantly, understanding how your business works is the first step to understanding how to use technology to make it work better. Read more on embracing technology in your business.
It’s about connectivity.
Affordable, reliable, super-fast connectivity like that promised by 5G, is vital to the 4th industrial revolution. The many devices’ communication with each other through software and algorithms all require connectivity at speed to create a smooth, frictionless experience for a customer.
It’s about creating scale.
Scale means that you can do a lot more of what you are doing at a consistent level of quality, experience and certainty. For example, if you are a baker making 1,000 loaves of bread a day. Scaling will allow you to make 10,000 loaves of bread a day. To get this right however, it means that not only should you be able to bake an additional 9,000 loaves of bread a day but also sell them too. It also means you need to be able to fund the growth you achieve through scaling. Scaling goes beyond technology; it needs the entire system of business to scale too.
It’s about predictability and certainty.
In the baking example, it’s easy to see where the most predictable and consistent level of performance would be achieved. These outcomes allow any business owner to focus on growth rather than daily operations dealing with a litany of relentless urgent matters.
It’s about specialisation.
Given the intimate understanding of your business required to enable its performance through technology, a narrow focus on who you serve is important. If you are trying to be all things to all people, the likely automation of your business processes will be limited. A comprehensive adoption of technology means that you specialise on a niche customer group, understand them deeply, design your business to solve problems and then, invest in automation to execute that solution.
It’s about a business environment conducive to technology.
None of this can happen in an environment that has unpredictable power supply, scarcity in skills, weak business growth funding and understanding and unworkable and or inconsistent legislation. Getting this right requires stability in the business environment given the investment required to get it done. Legislation, standards setting, and policy need to support and enable the process. In addition, business needs to be allowed to do it. I was speaking with an Uber driver who said technology is the thing that will cost jobs for those being retrenched and the same technology created one for him and his family. Tolerating this uncertainty, accelerating policy to make the 4th industrial revolution possible are vital features in this environment.
It’s about starting.
In its simplest form, start with a social media profile that works for your business. Build a website. In these two acts alone, you have tech enabled your shopfront and a path and journey to it. You can make all the bread you want but if a customer doesn’t know about you, it’ll never turn into cash. If you don’t know how, ask Google or YouTube, many there do, and share the information freely.
At Aurik, we embraced technology and have digitised over 289 processes in our services businesses. We grew, staff whose functions were replaced by technology were relocated to other parts of the business that needed their skills and time and our clients have enjoyed a service experience that is rated consistently above 94,2%. It is a vital component of building an Asset of Value and beyond doing it for ourselves, we do it for over 500 businesses today. Let’s work together to get your business built efficiently so that you can scale, grow and exit with a tidy capital profit sometime in the future.