Executive Roundtable: Future of Operations
24 March 2017

Exploiting the potential of new technology and Industry 4.0

The nature of operations has been changing constantly in past decades, and is still changing now, with more speed than ever. The evolvement of Industry 4.0 and the high scale availability of new technologies such as augmented reality devices and blockchain payments is triggering the accelerated change in industrial value chains. For business leaders in the field of operations it is crucial to understand these trends and their impact of existing business models. Arthur D. Little brought a group of 40 cross-industry executives together in Vienna at the Future of Operations Roundtable to discuss these topics.

The Future of Operations

The Future of Operations will be defined by the interplay between Industry 4.0 solutions and evolving technologies. Changes are visible along the whole value chain, and executives with different backgrounds will view these changes from angles as diverse as technology opportunities, system performance and business targets. Nevertheless, an integrated approach is necessary to leverage all of the potential that lies in the Future of Operations. Arthur D. Little outlined the major cost savings, efficiency gains and performance improvements that can be reached throughout different functions and presented important case studies for guidance in this changing environment.

Bernd Schreiber introducing the Future of Operations expertise of Arthur D. Little

Bridging operational excellence and digitalization Gebrüder Weiss pursues a very traditional business and has been keeping it successful for many years through constant adaption to the changing environment. Nevertheless, more risktaking is becoming necessary, as it is crucial for future success not to miss the new trends in logistics towards real-time information and transparency. Bridging the old economy and new technology towards a digital forwarding agency is the key challenge, as most of the megatrends – security, digitalization, urbanization, mobile world, climate change and ecommerce – are affecting the logistics business.

The traditional B2B business of Gebrüder Weiss is moving towards a model that is closer to a B2C oriented set-up. All support functions are under pressure from innovative new competitors such as start-ups or smaller boutique-model oriented solution companies, and there is a trend to separate the buying process and the logistics, with logistics assumed to be constantly available when transactions take place.

The new trends pose enormous challenges for logistics companies. Gebrüder Weiss is therefore placing an emphasis on customer orientation and satisfaction as well as widening its geographical and functional scope in order to utilize its assets as much as possible. Moreover, the company is working towards creating an integrated service platform for customers in order to
become a digital forwarding agency.

Industry 4.0 – requirements for employees – smart factory

Digitalization has varying effects on different groups within the workforce, with employment in retail and industry production suffering the largest losses, whereas telecommunication, media, health care and the public sector face increasing demand for labor. Within the production industry, the largest reductions in the workforce will take place in execution of repetitive tasks and controlling of machines. Additionally, administrative work will be reduced dramatically by advanced information-processing technologies. In contrast to these developments, there will be an increase in the demand for highly qualified workers in the fields of technology, data science and management.