Industry 4.0: Balancing Profit and Societal Responsibility


Aaron Westbury

Senior Consultant

Many businesses are embracing digitized processes during the fourth industrial revolution (industry 4.0). This provides businesses the opportunity to offer higher quality services in a more efficient manner. However, industry 4.0 is about much more than digitized processes, and there is also a trend towards embracing societal and environmental impacts when making business decisions. 

A review of Industry 4.0 and what it means for your business

Industry 4.0 is often used in reference to the current digital age. This includes the automation of traditional business processes and the overall digitization in the workplace. It is applicable to all industries, especially service industries that rely on specific daily processes and workflows. However, many expand the definition of industry 4.0 to include a new way of conducting business — one that focuses less on profit-only and more on the social impact of the business processes and employee satisfaction and fair treatment. 

Key areas that are important for success in industry 4.0

There are four key areas that many businesses within service industries are focusing their attention on in industry 4.0, which includes business strategy, societal impact, talent and technology. 


Strategy is an essential component of business, which has more or less always been the case. Having clearly defined processes ensure your staff understands the workflow each day, their job duties and the role they play within the business. However, being able to adapt your strategies and business processes is important during industry 4.0. Outdated business strategies are not likely to be effective in a digital era. Instead, learning to implement technology and software into your business strategy is essential for growth and long-term business continuity. 

Societal impact

There is a trend towards considering the societal impact of business decision-making. This comes in light of more awareness in general of the impact certain industries have on climate change, resource scarcity and other societal factors. Of course, and perhaps even of less relevance, the motivation behind this is mixed and often two-fold. Some businesses feel it is their obligation to consider the societal impact when making decisions about their business, whereas others may see a business that benefits the environment and society as a whole as a more profitable way to conduct business and improve their company’s reputation. 


Talent and skill are still keys to success for any business in any industry. The more talented your employees are the better your company will operate daily. While many understand this, not enough business owners and managers work to develop and train employees to be the best they can be at their job. Through a dedication to training employees and providing them with the resources they need to succeed and grow in their careers, your business will likely operate in a much more effective and efficient manner. 


Technology undoubtedly plays a vital role during industry 4.0, and for many, understanding how to effectively utilize technology is essential to business success. The digital era that we are in allows for businesses to utilize proven software systems that make recruitment, hiring and onboarding new employees much easier, along with documenting customer information and analyzing data in a way that allows the company to make more informed business decisions. 

An end to the profit-only approach of business

In the past, the primary focus for many businesses was to make as much money as possible by any means necessary, within the laws in which they had to work. However, there is a trend towards more of a concern for the bigger picture and the consideration of a company’s ethical and social responsibilities during the fourth industrial revolution. In fact, businesses that have embraced the trend away from a “profit-only approach” have seen more success as more people trust them and they are able to develop a stronger reputation within their communities. 

Balancing profit and purpose in the new digital era

An end to the profit-only approach to business does not mean generating a profit is not a primary goal for companies. Instead, the focus is transitioning more towards understanding the purpose and responsibility of your business and balancing that with profit. As mentioned, businesses that focus on the societal impact of business are often enjoying more success as it improves their reputation within their community and can open up opportunities that they may not have discovered. Also, transitioning away from outdated business processes helps businesses get ahead of their competitors in the new digital era. By doing so, any environmental or work restrictions imposed in the future will be easier to manage. 

A stronger commitment to training and development

The fourth industrial revolution is also likely to require more of a commitment to training and development. The digital era makes this easier by providing employees and those in leadership positions with digital resources that allow them to learn business processes in a more practical way. This allows employers to onboard new hires quicker and not have to do all of the training themselves. Long-term, employees can better understand their role each day, allowing for smoother business operations, higher quality services and an overall better work environment. The improvements in the work environment most often reduce the employee turnover time. 

Embracing digitization for the recruitment and hiring process

Digitization benefits businesses in a number of ways. One way in which more companies are utilizing digitized processes in industry 4.0 is with the recruitment of qualified prospects and hiring. In addition, companies can utilize software systems to improve the onboarding process and integrate new members of the staff into the team in a more efficient and stress-free manner. 

Get in touch with our professional team at FlowPatterns today

FlowPatterns offers a way for you to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your business process and reduce the amount of time it takes to onboard new employees. To learn more about our innovative solutions and receive our blueprint, connect with us today. 

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