Managing risks in the emerging industry 4.0

by Mustafa Hafızoglu

PMI Turkey Chapter just held an amazing 2-day project management summit with the theme “Project Management in Industry 4.0” in Istanbul on September 2018. What will the future trends for managing risks in projects be? What should we expect when managing risk in or projects in this new world?

New technologies are emerging in Industry 4.0 business world. Our projects will be affected by the following new technologies:

  • Cyber-Physical Systems
  • Vertical and Horizontal Integration
  • The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Cloud Technology
  • Cyber Security
  • Autonomous Robots
  • Big Data and Analytics
  • Augmented Reality

Industry 4.0 simply says that autonomous robots will replace human strength. This is not only valid for manufacturing but also for service and other industries. At first glimpse, this implies that the risks associated with humans may be minimized and autonomous robots may complete the work without any risk. However, what about the brainpower. Yes, this will be in high demand says the surveys. Gartner’s 2017 CEO Survey mentions the importance of the brainpower. CEOs indicate that the number one internal growth constraint is talent. CIOs also mention in Gartner’s 2018 CIO Agenda that the top barriers to success are culture, resources, and talent.

A talented workforce

Having a talented workforce will be project manager’s new challenge in Industry 4.0. The risks related to talent will be at the top of the identified risks. As Tolga Avsar, Gartner’s Regional Vice President for CEE, Russia, EMed & Africa mentioned in the summit “The secret to the digital world is Analog.” We should focus more on our people in our projects to eliminate risks.

In order to maximize the benefits of disruptive technologies on projects and minimize the risks, project managers should also be elevated according to PMI’s latest In-Depth report on the impact of disruptive technologies on projects. According to this report, the organizations that have a mature digital transformation strategy, that have made disruptive technologies a priority believe that the role of the project manager will evolve to one that advocates for the technology and becomes an authority on disruptive technologies. Thus, the new way to deal with uncertainty in Industry 4.0 world will need a new type of project manager. Having a talented workforce and a new type of project manager requires making training and development a priority both for the workforce and project managers. Training is not an expense but an indispensable investment for companies of the future.

Changing company culture

We need our organizations to adapt to these changes in order to cope with the uncertainty and become more flexible. Our company culture should be evolved to the new Industry 4.0 world so that project managers can be more successful at managing risks. First understanding the dynamics of Industry 4.0 and then starting to change the culture can help support our projects’ success rates. Unfortunately changing the culture is not easy, but it is inevitable.

Having a talented workforce, adaptive project managers, and an adaptive company culture can greatly increase a project’s chances of success and ability to manage any risks in its path in the new world of Industry 4.0 technology. So let’s minimize the risks for the future by focusing on people.


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