The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Keeping Pace (and the Doors Open) in This New Era

The past three industrial revolutions spanned more than 220 years.  Each built upon the others, bringing technological advances that have resulted in an all-pervasive, qualitative impact on how we work, live, play and move. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, however, is characterized by a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.


On the surface, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may appear to be a continued progression from the Third —The Digital Revolution. The impact has been immense – from industry consolidation to the IoT. Then there’s the cloud, which providing the flexibility and agility to get new products and services to market fast while unifying and streamlining increasingly complex operations.


But for non-cloud native organizations, today’s digital world is making business more complex.  Organizations are forced to deal with a decline in revenue from their traditional businesses, approaching their business (and customers) in a completely different manner. Is it possible for non-cloud native organizations to transition to the digital world without a costly, system overhaul? Absolutely!

Here’s how:


  1. Get Real.

Business Support Systems (BSS) are built to support a discrete number of services, with work-horse like functionality to operate at massive scale, segmented stacks and on premise physical infrastructure.  ‘Quickly’ adding new offers is measured in weeks, and even longer for new features.


Digitalization, however, is changing everything about the business landscape. Legacy organizations must reinvent themselves into innovative businesses, with innovative business models, with radically different cost structures. Key to this is delivering new offers that can be measured in hours and days, all while operating at a fraction of current costs. Furthermore, they must keep the customer at the center of it all delivering what they want, when they want it and on whatever device they choose. An expectation that extends across all environments—work, home, play and otherwise.


  1. Lighten Up.

Recognizing the need to transform is just the first leg. Moving from a service-based IT architecture to a microservices and solution-based architecture is more than a change in technology, it’s an extreme makeover.  That won’t (and can’t) happen overnight.


Squeeze legacy infrastructure costs by aligning the application portfolio to the digital business strategy. Key investment areas determine what applications can be moved immediately into the cloud. Consequently, this frees up resources and budget that can then be redirected to a new Digital Support Systems architecture and re-architecture of the business-as-a-whole.


  1. Avoid Extinction.

Just as business as usual doesn’t work in the digital era, neither does how companies make a profit.  Meaning, most of the ways organizations have traditionally generated revenue will no longer work.  Non-cloud natives should leave their comfort zone behind and adopt three key revenue-generating focused principles. These will not simply help businesses stay afloat, but sustain, grow, dominate and give digital natives a big run for their money.

  • Value Added Services. IoT is a great example. Organizations that look to high revenue generating industries (such as smart cities) and furnish a comprehensive ecosystem of IoT products and services will provide greater overall value. More value equals more solution-selling equating to more avenues of revenue generation.
  • Shadow Services. Cinemas don’t make money off the price of admission but the margins on popcorn, soda and candy sales are obscene. Look for those companion services that entice customers to open their eWallets and keep coming back for more. Brand allegiance equals regularly repeating customers, equating to more sales.
  • Combination of Models. One size fits all simply no longer works. Companies need to embrace a launch fast, learn fast, fail fast, scale fast mentality. Use this to experiment with a variety of innovative B2C, B2B and B2B2X business models – find the unique cocktail that will propel your business to the most success.


The digital world is about more than just participating.  It’s about adopting the new instead of adapting the old. But time is of the essence and non-cloud native laggards that fail to embrace digital transformation, adopt a SaaS, cloud-first strategy will be quickly blindsided by lean, agile digital natives untethered and unabated by traditional ways of conducting business.  For more about keeping pace in this new era, check out The Fourth Industrial Revolution White Paper.