4th Industrial Revolution Insights by Robert de Neve on August 11, 2021

Video and notes from a fantastic talk by Robert De Neve on “Reality-Based Business Leadership for the 4th Industrial Revolution” at the Aug-11-2021 Lean Culture Meetup.

4th Industrial Revolution Insights by Robert de Neve on August 11, 2021

Robert De Neve gave a fantastic talk on “Reality-Based Business Leadership for the 4th Industrial Revolution” at the Aug-11-2021 Lean Culture Meetup on the “4th Industrial Revolution.” In the first half he focused on the leadership and management skills needed, what he called “Warrior Ethos” in each of us. It is a lean, integrated and realty-based training methodology based on over 40 years of experience and research into the secrets of success that helped make Silicon Valley the innovation capital of the world. In the second half he offered his perspective on the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Robert de Neve shares his insights on the 4th Industrial Revolution.

De Neve characterizes the 4th Industrial Revolution as “smart products and the smart factories needed to build those products.” Robotic systems, with their vision and intelligence, will play an essential role in that revolution. Even Nicholas Negroponte, who famously advocated that “the change from atoms to bits is irrevocable and unstoppable” in “Being Digital” (1995), had to admit:

If you make cashmere sweaters or Chinese food, it will be a long time before we can convert them to bits. “Beam me up, Scotty” is a wonderful dream, but not likely to come true for several centuries. Until then you will have to rely on FedEx, bicycles, and sneakers to get your atoms from one place to another. This is not to say that digital technologies will be of no help in design, manufacturing, marketing, and management of atom-based businesses. I am only saying that the core business won’t change and your product won’t have bits standing in for atoms.

Nicholas Negroponte in “Being Digital” (1995)

Twenty-five years beyond “Being Digital,” De Neve suggests that software and solid-state electronics-based technology will be marginalized. He does not mean that they are going away. He means that they are now like electricity, a commodity that can no longer differentiate a product. Human expertise and ingenuity can be encoded into software and hardware and still make a difference. But in the same way that we have wrung the benefits from electrification, just converting a product to software and silicon is of no marginal benefit.

The other thing that’s converging is industrial complexity meets consumer quantity. In the old days, you might build something for a B2B play: industrial equipment or products. They were really complicated, but you didn’t build many. Or there was the consumer side of the spectrum where you built something that wasn’t as complex or customized but produced in mass quantities. Now, we’re starting to do both. And it’s very difficult to do that.
Robert De Neve “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”

And in the midst of all of that difficulty lies the opportunity for entrepreneurs.

In the video below, he offers an example of industrial complexity meets consumer quantities. One Wheel is an example of high complexity, mass customization and high volume.


Watch the full recorded webinar

About Robert de Neve

Robert de Neve  is a seasoned business leader and innovator with decades of Silicon Valley experience as an engineer, executive, entrepreneur, investor and lecturer. He is currently General Partner at NextPhase Ventures, a venture capital, private equity, and business advisory firm.

He has founded and held CEO positions at several start-ups and currently sits on the Board of Directors for three companies in the AI-based robotics and factory automation space. He also teaches at Draper University, Carnegie-Mellon and Hult International Business School, and is involved in several business anthropology research projects with Dr. Chuck Darrah of San Jose State University.

He is a six-time honoree of INC. Magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing Company’s list. This was accomplished with three different companies, Equipe Technologies, Evolve Manufacturing Technologies and BriteLab Inc.. These companies were also seven-time honorees in the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Fast 50 with a #1 win achieved in 1997.

His lifelong interest in martial arts training and philosophy has been a major inspiration to his unique approach to business management. He is a 2nd Degree Black Belt in the Hawaiian martial art of Kajukenbo, a Certified Defensive Tactics Instructor in Reality-Based Martial Arts under Jim Wagner, a Certified Mixed Martial Arts Instructor under 5 Time UFC World Champion Frank Shamrock, and a Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Rener and Ryron Gracie.

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