Which industry do you work in?

I work for a large multi-national computer company and in sales, where I work, we are divided into industries – public sector (government), communications, financial services and manufacturing, retail and distribution (MRD).

But are there really defined industries today?

Which industry do you work in?

If a person works for Woolworths but works in their financial services division do they work in the retail or banking? If a person works for CellC in their Black division does that person work in the media or communications industry?

This cross-industry blurring of the lines is now common in South Africa and as each industry encroaches on each other, and new entrants arrive in every industry, one has to wonder where this will end.

Have you seen changes in the industry you work in and how do you see this changing in the future?

Fourth Industrial Revolution

I recently attended LeaderEx in Johannesburg and I was leaving a session on digital when I heard a lady says how tired she was of hearing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Well as tired as she is of this it is an absolute reality that we can’t run away from.

But what is the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Essentially it is the fusion of technologies that are blurring the lines between physical, digital and biological.

It is the areas of digital and connectivity that are changing the nature of industries. Companies with an existing customer base can offer digital solutions to their customers that in the past have traditionally been offered by other industries.


So how do our companies prepare for the increasing blurring of industries? Partnering with other companies in different industries is being proposed as a solution.

The World Economic Forum has an article on their website titled “Why partnership is the business trend to watch” written by Jonathan Auerbach - Executive Vice-President; Chief Strategy, Growth and Data Officer, PayPal.

Here are some thoughts from this article:

  • Technology is transforming almost every aspect of our lives at an unprecedented pace and scale.

  • Emerging technologies are enabling more personalised experiences in new contexts.

  • Today’s consumers want more control over their experiences.They don’t want to be boxed in; they value choice.

  • For businesses to produce innovations that can be scaled they need to work in partnerships.

  • Partnering pushes platforms and products into new markets, exposing brands to new constituencies and enables companies to leapfrog the traditional barriers of expansion and scale by using the core competencies of each partner.

  • Taking a partnership-first mindset requires a business to re-examine and potentially disrupt its traditional practices and old ways of operating.

  • Strategic partnerships are emerging as a new core competency for leading businesses across industries.

Partnering example

Partnering is taking place with increasing regularity in the IT industry in which I work. Last week it was announced that Adobe, Microsoft and SAP are partnering to create something called the Open Data Initiative. The aim of this initiative aims to eliminate date silos and enable a single view of the customer.

This initiative is very new but it sounds like that if a company uses Adobe, Microsoft and SAP that they will be able to facilitate the sharing of data between these systems – marketing, sales, operational, financial etc.

I will be interested to see how the other major IT players respond to this.

It seems to me that we will increasingly see previous competitors start to partner to provide broader solutions that will often extend across traditional industries.

Multi-industry global consortium innovation

Denis Barrier - CEO of Cathay Innovation – wrote an article titled “Digital Revolution makes adjacent industries collide” on Medium.

In the article he gives an example of the effect of self driving cars on the insurance industry and that should an accident occur then the software provider of the self driving car will be at fault.

Denis talks about a consortium of companies from across the world coming together to work on innovation. The article contains more detail on this.

Which industry do you work in?

I end this blog the way it started by asking the same question – which industry do you work in? Even more importantly in 2023 which industry will you work in?

What does this changing and morphing of industry lines mean for you and the company you work for or own?

Have you thought about this? As always I would be interest to hear your thoughts on this subject…

Have a great week!


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