Adaptability and change are inherently human characteristics. They are central to our success as a species, and they are central to grasping the opportunity presented by Industry 4.0 technologies in Ireland.

But that doesn’t mean they come easily.


Charles Darwin, a person whose observations of change revolutionised our understanding of the natural world noted: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”


It’s a thought that should resonate strongly in a time of rapid evolution in industry, and it’s one that resonates particularly with me, having recently joined Rockwell Automation as country sales director for Ireland.


Having spent much of the past ten years or so fulfilling global roles and living in the Middle East, I am no stranger to change. In coming home to Ireland with my young family, I’m embracing another one and bringing with me a wealth of experiences and a new, more global mindset, that I believe is a very good fit for an increasingly global Irish industrial sector.


I have been greeted so warmly in my new role and especially by our customers here in Ireland. Grateful as I am for this welcome, it isn’t a surprise. I’ve long known by reputation that Rockwell Automation develops lasting and valued relationships with its customers, and it was one of the most important reasons I took on the role.


The value of this commitment to developing relationships is more important than it’s ever been. In this era of exponential change, vendors have a huge responsibility to help customers manage the evolution within their enterprises.


In fact, I believe that the traditional vendor-customer relationship is no longer enough – vendors need to be adaptable too. In order to create a truly connected enterprise and map their own Industry 4.0 journey strategically, customers need to draw upon the experience and knowledge of solutions partners such as Rockwell Automation.


It’s my intention to lead our Ireland team to continue to build on our reputation, to actively engage and help our customers to adapt in the new era. And the new era is a fantastic opportunity for Ireland, which ranks as a leading country in a recent World Economic Forum Industry 4.0 readiness report (PDF).


Leading nations, according to the report, have a strong current base and are positioned to do well for the future. Taking into account various measurements including structure, technology and innovation, human capital, and global trade an investment, despite Ireland’s size, it ranked 15thoverall in 2018, just one place behind France.


Helping Ireland to seize this opportunity will require a proactive approach to change management within its industries, be that life-sciences companies seeking to balance the slower-moving regulatory environment against the fast-moving technology developments, or F&B manufacturers that need more flexible and efficient manufacturing to remain sustainable and grow, or any other industrial application facing the challenges of change.


Darwin’s observation is apposite for Irish industry right now. Companies that are strongest in their sector must embrace change or risk being disrupted by more agile companies able to move with demand.


Companies that are the cleverest – have the most talented employees, for example – they too must embrace change or risk losing talent to exciting new enterprises. Only companies who embrace the change as an opportunity will thrive. The good news is that they don’t need to go it alone.