Australian executives are less confident than their global counterparts about their organisations’ readiness for a wave of impending technological and societal change.

According to new research from Deloitte, only 2 per cent of executives in Australia feel highly confident they can fully harness the changes associated with Industry 4.0, compared with 14 per cent of executives globally.

The figures are contained in a new report titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution is Here—Are You Ready? which surveyed 1,600 C-level executives across 19 countries.

Industry 4.0 is concerned with the changes ushered in by the marriage of physical and digital technologies, such as analytics, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and the internet of things (IoT).

Only 8 per cent of Australian executives are highly confident that they can act as stewards for their organisations during this time of change (versus 33 per cent globally).

The research found only 4 per cent of respondents from Australia consider technology a key competitive differentiator, compared with 20 per cent globally.

Conversely, Australians are the most confident in the ability of their current workforce to adapt to Industry 4.0. 71 per cent of Australian executives — compared with 40 per cent globally — say they have people in place with the right skills to maximise their potential—the highest percentage of any country surveyed.

“The rapidly advancing technologies driving Industry 4.0 are bringing about social and economic change rapidly in an environment of unparalleled global connectivity and demographic change,” said Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global CEO.

“It’s a time of great opportunity, but also risk. We developed this research to better understand how executives are navigating the pervasive shift and to uncover areas where they can more effectively influence how the Fourth Industrial Revolution impacts their organisations and society.”

The survey results indicate that while executives conceptually understand the changes Industry 4.0 will bring, they are less certain how they should act to benefit from those changes.

According to the report, executives understand they need to invest in technology to drive new business models. However, they have a hard time making the business case to fully address Industry 4.0 opportunities because of a lack of internal strategic alignment and short-term focus.

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