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Friday, 22 January 2016

Selling in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Davos 2016 from VUCA into the 4th IR.

Following on from the introduction of steam power the (first industrial revolution), came the electricity revolution then the electronics  revolution, we are now entering the fourth industrial revolution (4th  IR).

Five years from now the World Economic Forum ( Davos 2016) predicts, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.

The new Selling Paradigm



Selling skills sets will need to adapt similarly or selling in its conventional model will die -we have been warned  ( not for the first time). 



This book was on the shelves
in W H Smith within the week
of David Bowie's death
'Speed is the new currency of business'
 as Marc Benloff –CEO of Salesforce said
 at Davos this week




Like the late David Bowie we need to reinvent ourselves periodically.











The nature of the change will depend very much on the industry . Global media and entertainment, for example, has already seen a great deal of change in the past five years.

The WEF report stresses the financial services and investment sector, however, has yet to be radically transformed. Those working in sales and manufacturing will need new skills, such as technological literacy.

Some advances are ahead of others. Mobile Internet and cloud technology just think of systems like Salesforce.com are already impacting the way many in sales work. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing and advanced materials are still in their early stages of use, but the pace of change will be fast.

'Change won’t wait for us': 

Business leaders, sales trainers and governments all need to be proactive in up-skilling and retraining  salespeople so each can benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The WEF 'Report on Jobs' states Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need.

 With the superfluity of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, it suggests that salespeople are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes. Sales managers will need to recruit train and re-train their teams accordingly.

Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as salespeople quite yet but Cobots ( Collaborative Robots) will become a more powerful threat / opportunity to salespeople.

How does your current skills set match up to what the WEF predicts ?

Source : Future of Jobs report World Economic Forum
Does your refreshment training include all of these ?


Whereas negotiation and flexibility are high on the list of skills for 2015, in 2020 they will begin to drop from the top 10 as machines, using masses of data, begin to make our decisions for both buyer and seller.

"Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution" is the theme of this year's World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos 2016 . 

I am not sure we can master it, but we can use our current skills in risk managing the era of cyber-physical systems from what we have learnt in selling in a current environment  which is volatile uncertain complex and uncertain  ( VUCA) times that we now operate in.

This revolution has been designated as one of "cyber-physical systems," or, generally speaking, Cobots, driver less cars, the Internet of Things,etc..

The WEF  have already predicted that 7 million jobs could go in five years.

A new report from UBS predicts the 4IR will have less of an impact on developed economies, such as Switzerland, Singapore and the UK

Possible consequence to Emerging markets will be felt more so – notably in parts of Latin America and India – will suffer when artificial intelligence and robots become widely used, reducing the competitive advantage of their cheap labour.

For nations, the largest gains from the fourth industrial revolution are likely to be captured by those with the most flexible economies, adding a further incentive for governments to trim red tape and barriers to business.

4IR Automation will continue to put downward pressure on the wages of the low skilled salespeople in commodity markets and is starting to impinge on the employment prospects of middle-skilled salespeople. 

By contrast, the potential returns to highly skilled and more adaptable salespeople are increasing.


I am re-reading 'Selling is Dead'
by Milller & Sinkovitz.
Still pertinent ten years on
yet we will still see 'new' paradigms for selling
 especially in this new era of fourth industrial revolution
From Robots to Cobots

 Cobots  (Collaborative Robots) are robots intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace which are able to perform more intricate tasks. This is in contrast with other robots, designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.

The greatest disruption from 4th IR, however, could be experienced by those in Selling who have so far felt immune to robotic competition, namely those in middle-skill professions. The UBS bank report points to clerical work, such as customer service, being replaced by artificial intelligence. For example :- Insurance claims could also be settled without human intervention.

“Change won’t wait for us” the  UBS report warns.


Reminding me of something James Goldsmith once said 


‘ If you can see the bandwagon – you’re too late!”

So as sales leaders,  sales trainers and  relevant government departments -we all need to be proactive in up-skilling and retraining salespeople so they can benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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