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Industry 4.0 Global Digital Operations 2018 Survey

UK findings

From talk to action. Industry 4.0 is on the agenda of manufacturing companies around the globe. Yet most business leaders have still not embraced the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation.

Introduction and key findings

Industry 4.0 encompasses end-to-end digitization and data integration of the value chain: offering digital products and services, operating connected physical and virtual assets, transforming and integrating all operations and internal activities, building partnerships, and optimizing customer-facing activities.

For their 2018 Study, PwC’s Strategy& surveyed more than 1,100 manufacturing executives in 26 countries. They found that those companies that master Industry 4.0, or “digital champions” excel at managing and integrating four critical ecosystems — Customer Solutions, Operations, Technology, and People. Mastering Industry 4.0 requires a deep understanding of collaboration, the commitment of top management, and a clear strategy. 1% of UK firms have attained digital champion status compared to 5% in EMEA, 19% of Asian companies, 11% in the Americas and 10% globally. From a subsector perspective, globally it's automotive companies who have the highest percentage of digital champions (20%) with industrial manufacturing lagging at 6%.

What UK benefits do you expect from your investments in digital technologies cumulatively over the next 5 years?

Tangible benefits from Industry 4.0

Those surveyed expect rich rewards by investing in digital operations and digital product and service offerings. UK manufacturers expect a 10.8% revenue boost and 9.3% in cost efficiencies from Industry 4.0 on average in the next five years. This compares with 14.7%/12.3% globally. This is in contrast to more ambitious Asian companies, predicting digital revenue growth of c.17% with EMEA peers anticipating growth of 12.7.

Connectivity and automation

Connectivity and automation is a must-have for companies looking to harvest the full potential of digital, enabling them to improve cost and leverage data analytics. Our UK respondents have not yet exploited the full potential of automation and connectivity.

60% are applying this selectively. Only 5% identified this happening seamlessly across multiple plants and beyond manufacturing, compared with 19% for global and a lower 3% for EMEA.

Which statement best describes your manufacturing operations? Please select only one..
What is the composition of your UK reveneue today and in the next 5 years?

Customer solutions and driving revenue from digital

In the customer solutions ecosystem companies create holistic end-to-end, customer centric, digital product and service offerings. This is often realised through strong partnerships.

UK respondents to the survey also believe they could double the income gained from purely digital content, services and solutions by 2023 albeit from a small base, with traditional products and services falling by 7%.

To increase their digital revenue UK manufacturers are focussing more on omnichannel commerce and product and service platforms as opposed to more customer centric solutions. The UK is amongst the leaders when it come to products and service platforms offering pay per use models (RR power-by-the-hour). In terms of omni channel commerce platforms the UK is almost on par (40%) with global average. In terms of customer centric personalised solutions however the UK is below global average and therefore missing out on growing customer expectations. There is also more to be done around collaboration with others to provide a more holistic service and product offering through building digital ecosystems.


The top three technologies UK respondents are implementing now are predictive maintenance, manufacturing execution systems, and connectivity/ the industrial internet of things.

However, this contrasts with AI. In this area from our global findings appears to be Asian companies who are leading the charge, with 15% implementing significant AI solutions, compared to just 5% in EMEA and only 1% in the UK. When looking at potential however, (adding piloted and planned) the UK figure reaches 24%.

So why the slow pace of change? The biggest obstacles UK respondents identified to AI adoption were were: uncertain ROI (51% - UK v 36% - globally); a lack of maturity around technologies (46%); and reliability of data (40%). Interestingly, only 6% saw regulation as a challenge. While over a third (36%) said their workforce lacks the skills needed to implement and manage AI solutions, this was less than the global pool (40%).


UK manufacturing respondents compare well in some areas but not in others. 32% of UK firms stated their employees have the required qualifications for a digital future compared to just 23% of EMEA companies.

UK respondents also matched global peers with regards to their focus on providing a digital customer experience throughout the customer journey (35%), ahead of their EMEA counterparts (30%).

But, only 16% of UK respondents agreed that “our leadership has a clear vision for the digital future and acts as role model”. This is vital not only to be able to become a digital champion but even to maximise on the opportunities of Industry 4.0 and to be able to map a direction for a business that could change it significantly from what it is today.

About the survey

PwC’s Strategy& interviewed 1,155 manufacturing executives in 26 countries, including 72 UK companies, to develop an index that ranks companies by digital maturity, from Digital Novices, Digital Followers, Digital Innovators to Digital Champions. Based on the study data, we were able to create a sweeping portrait of Digital Champions — companies that have taken digitization to the highest degree—and assess what it takes to be a Digital Champion through the lens of the four essential ecosystems they must master and orchestrate: Customer solutions, Operations, Technology and People.

Please contact us for a deeper discussion of the findings and how we can help your business

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Contact us

Darren Jukes

Darren Jukes

Leader of Industry for Industrial Manufacturing and Services, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7966 297427

Cara Haffey

Cara Haffey

M&A Deals Partner, Private Business leader for PwC Northern Ireland, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7809 551517

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