Hi I’m Sarah Carroll
And I’m delighted to be here with you at the Global Industry 4.0 Conference
I am a specialist in e-commerce strategy and training and my company is Grow Global, where we’ve worked with over 850 SMEs and started over 5,000 companies off on their international digital journey through webinars, seminars and workshops to significantly increase online sales across borders.
I’ve recently published my book Grow Fast, Grow Global: 6 steps to unstoppable international growth in the digital age, which is a methodology for companies to follow to boost e-commerce sales to international customers. It contains all the experience I have gained, including working with the UK trade promotion agency for over 10 years on their e-exporting programme.
So, let’s get started!
TECHNOLOGY EXPLOSION = OPPORTUNITY EXPLOSION
We all know there has been a technology explosion.
And we’re all here today to find out how we can take advantage of this opportunity.
There are three trends I’d like to talk about today that I see from where I’m working with businesses everyday to become more digital
- How to sell Industry 4.0 products to international customers across the world
- How to build digital skills in every part of the economy
- How Industry 4.0 may actually change manufacturers into service companies.
DIGITAL SALES CHANNELS
Once we have our new products produced from the new technology.
We need to find our customers whether they are other business customers or consumers – B2B or B2C.
We should not limit ourselves to old business models of using sales teams, agents, distributors and attending expensive exhibitions.
We should look to the digital sales channels that are now available to us.
Competitors from the other side of the world are already selling to our customers online.
And this will be even more true with Industry 4.0 making the world even smaller through advanced technology.
DIGITAL SKILLS ECOSYSTEM
A deep level of expertise is needed to operate in today’s digital world and it is in short supply.
Most people don’t get digital and it is a big ask and a massive change in mindset for many people.
In the UK, which is an advanced digital economy, we see many companies going out of business as they have not embraced digital and we still have companies who prefer to stick to traditional business models, so don’t invest in digital skills and are really getting left behind. But that doesn’t need to happen…
So, is it only the entrepreneurs and business owners we need to upskill?
From my experience, I would suggest that the upskilling project is much much wider than this.
We need to be looking at the whole of the economy or eco-system to get everyone to flourish and succeed in this digital age.
In the UK, we found that most people outside of the tech sector, were not confident to talk to companies about the opportunities digital can offer, as they were too embarrassed to get caught out from a lack of knowledge.
There are five main groups that need to develop digital skills to some degree – we have a massive task ahead!
Companies: The companies themselves, from the founder to all team members, need to really really understand how to operate as a digital business.
Implementers: Tech companies, web companies, digital agencies need upskilling on how to do all this digital stuff properly and implement it impeccably to enable fast digital growth. The businesses can rarely do this well themselves, so may need to be given financial assistance to make the leap.
Edcuators: We need an environment to encourage everyone to become more digital savvy. They need to be given support to grow and develop themselves and it needs to be built into the core education system and lifelong learning from age 5 to age 95.
Intermediaries: What I call intermediaries are all the advisors who are in close contact with businesses on a day-to-day basis – the chambers of commerce, the trade associations, the accountants, the business bankers, the business lawyers – this list is actually very very long. They can be key in the awareness raising of a business model that embraces digital.
Governments: Governments and regional and trade development agencies who are responsible for improving the economic well-being of literally hundreds and hundreds of businesses in their countries, regions or cities like the intermediaries need to be the catalyst and need to really understand how the digital economy can work.
So, the companies, the implementers, the educators, the intermediaries, the government agencies…
They all need to be part of the digital revolution as we move into 2020.
JACK MA SPEAKS
At the World Trade Organisation Public Forum in Geneva last year, Jack Ma of Alibaba fame, predicted that over 90% of businesses will be digital and service businesses by 2030. So, what could change in 10 years?
Manufacturing has been a fairly linear process before the digital age.
Raw materials/components go into a manufacturing process, products are produced and sold.
Companies then use a sales team/agent/distributor or go to a trade show or exhibition to sell their products around the world.
MANUFACTURERS BECOME SERVICE PROVIDERS
In the future, IP and the technology will be the input.
The manufacture will be distributed and local.
The original manufacturer will be a service provider in this model with IP, a design or a secret recipe e.g. think of an architect, or the secret formula for say for well-known cola drinks!
They will become or partner with a tech company or lease the technology (yet again another service company).
We have a client who is a small business in the UK who is a manufacturer of high-quality tools which are then sold through distributors all physically shipped all around the world from the UK.
I suggested that in the future he may ‘only’ be a designer of high-quality tools and that perhaps they would be 3D printed or manufactured locally all over the world, with real time updates and customisations to the local machines as needed. Big companies are already doing this…
This scenario may not be the 2020s for every SME, but maybe for the 2030s.
This is where the power of Industry 4.0 lies.
KEEP IN TOUCH
Thank you for listening and keep in touch!
Speech delivered at the Global Industry 4.0 Conference in Casablanca, Morocco, 13 November 2019.
To develop e-commerce skills in your country or to sell your products online across the world, GET IN TOUCH with Sarah here.