The roundtable How are quality leaders navigating the Fourth Industrial Revolution? was an exclusive event for CQI Corporate Partners that took place on 27 June at the CQI offices in London

How are quality leaders navigating the Fourth Industrial Revolution? was the topic for a roundtable discussion attended by CQI corporate members from a range of industries. The event gave participants the opportunity to debate and discuss how quality management leaders are engaging in their organisation’s digital transformation strategy development and deployment and aligning their own strategies and plans to broader organisational digital strategies.

Vincent Desmond, CQI’s CEO, opened the event revealing that 40% of the 2018 CQI Workforce Insights Survey’s respondents said they have skills’ gaps in their teams and 75% find it difficult to hire new talent. He said that the CQI wants to help quality professionals overcome this issue, developing projects for education, mentoring and recognition of quality professionals. Desmond told the audience about CQI’s new STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiative, taking quality related activities, such as plan, do, study, act (PDSA) cycles, to schools in the United Kingdom. For higher education, the CQI has recently accredited four universities and hopes that these accredited courses will bring more people into the quality profession. The CQI also developed the technical competencies of four improvement apprenticeship schemes launched last year, with the Institute of Apprenticeships and Technical Education; and has recently launched the CQI mentoring platform, where quality professionals in different phases of their career come together to share knowledge with less experienced colleagues.  

“The International Quality Awards are also an opportunity to promote the profession. This is our third year and we have new categories and a new digital platform for entries,” Desmond said. “This year we are celebrating our centenary and we would like that the Awards and World Quality Day would celebrate 100 years of quality. We have been thinking a lot about the past this year and I think now it’s time to start thinking about the future of the quality profession and the CQI, and how to carry out our mission of advancing the practice of quality management in all sectors for the benefit of society.”

What is industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0 is the new industrial era where interconnectivity, information, computing power and robotics work together to change the way we work. People and machines are now connected through the internet of things (IoT), data is collected and stored easily, access to quantum computing power allows us to assimilate and analyse information, and robotics automate processes.

“Think about all the advantages of Industry 4.0, but also about the ethical and legal implications,” Desmond said. “Industry 4.0 is a systems, data and ethical disruptor,” he concluded.

In fact, the CQI has been working on the hypothesis that Industry 4.0 will disrupt business strategies, models and supply chains, while digitalising systems of operational governance and assurance. It creates the challenge of how to use data to solve problems and improve processes, and it brings ethical risks, particularly considering the use of artificial intelligence.

Participants in the roundtable discussion agreed with this list of disruptions, adding that information management is crucial for the efficiency of processes, particularly in complex supply chains. In the future quality professionals will have different skills and backgrounds, such as data science for instance, they added.

Food for thought

“For me it’s really important that we talk to people from other industries. Today I realised that in construction we are actually more advanced in the use of new technologies than I thought initially,” Rachel Tomkins, Head of Business Excellence for Tideway, said after the event. “I love brainstorming and sharing ideas, listening to other people’s experiences and thinking about the impact of new technologies for the industry. The main thing I learnt today was not to give up, and that it’s not too late to bring those new technologies into our project.”

Mike Buss, Head of Quality for Taylor Woodrow, said that he wanted to attend the event, not only to represent his company as a Corporate Partner, but also because he is passionate about digital technologies and the difference they can make to his industry and to quality management. “As well as gaining a better understanding of what other organisations are doing, I wanted to contribute to the discussions helping to generate ideas for how collectively we might improve the way we manage issues relevant to digital technologies and Industry 4.0, drive innovation and maximise value.”

I think the event was excellent in terms of highlighting developments in Industry 4.0 and its effects on quality leadership

Paul Hayes, Group Head of Quality for Lloyd’s Register, also highlighted the opportunity for sharing knowledge this roundtable discussion provided. “I think the event was excellent in terms of highlighting developments in Industry 4.0 and its effects on quality leadership. I think it’s great having a group of quality professionals like this around the table, in this free-form format where you are able to share and learn from others.” Talking about what he learnt from the event, Hayes said he is taking some key ideas back for discussion in his organisation. “I think the main take-aways are that we need to think about the digital transformation in our organisations; we need to be working with those teams specialised in new technologies, we need to be aware of what they are doing; we need to think about what digital means for our profession within the organisation, and how we can use technology to solve the issues that we are dealing with.” He said quality professionals shouldn’t be afraid to talk with new organisations, such as start-ups, letting them know about the principles of quality, which remain valid in this new Industry 4.0 era.