Subscribe to our Newsletter

Frontline Managers: The Left Behind of Industry 4.0

Jean-Philippe Raiche
Manager 4.0

We’re hearing a lot about the fourth Industrial Revolution or the concept of Industry 4.0 since the turn of the decade. Without repeating everything that has been said on the subject, it pertains to the automation of manufacturing companies and the integration of new technologies in production chains. With the emergence of robotization, sensors on machinery, or RFID technologies, among others, many companies have begun the technological shift.

In a hurry? Save this article as a PDF.

Tired of scrolling? Download a PDF version for easier offline reading and sharing with coworkers.

Download a PDF version.

Among those forgotten in this shift are front-line managers. Their environment has been digitized and robotized, adding variables to be managed and transforming the operators' role under their responsibility. What did we give them in return? Nothing. They have been left with paper and pencil and sometimes a shared computer to do their work. Some lucky ones were given a Walkie-Talkie! The front-line manager is the overlooked party of the shift to 4.0.

How can this be explained? Our interpretation is that technology companies have lacked exposure to the role of managers and therefore misunderstood the problems they experience daily. Decision makers still take management for granted and fail to view it as fundamental to performance. In the end, we observe an accumulation of management performance backlog in organizations, and the results are as follows:

  • Disorganized and underperforming management processes nested in paper mode
  • Knowledge loss when experienced managers leave the company
  • Ineffective integration of new managers that hinders their leadership
  • Cumbersome, complex, and inefficient organization-wide communications
  • Long and underutilized variance resolution cycle in operations
  • Front-line management's loss of credibility, which struggles to play its role

All these problems worsen in times of crisis:

  • Frequent changes in manager roles to fill vacant positions
  • Changing communication modes through distancing measures
  • Communication rituals reorganized by remote working
  • New follow-up parameters added to an already challenging monitoring stack



Management 4.0 – The Suit Analogy 

Just as superheroes get their powers from their suits or astronauts need their suits to go into space safely, Management 4.0 is the idea that managers also need the right equipment to play their supervisory role and multiply their strengths tenfold.

What I see in companies where my teams carry out analyses are managers whose on-site presence is random:

  • Visits to workstations without a clear objective
  • Lack of rigor and direction in discussions with team members
  • Unstructured note-taking that gets lost in the daily routine without being acted upon

Without a clear goal, how can managers produce results? To ask the question is to answer it:

  • Lack of follow-up on key issues
  • Lack of stringency in the escalation of crucial information in the hierarchy
  • Frequent recurrence of similar problems

That is why Proaction International has developed the concept of a manager's "suit." We have called this technological solution UTrakk DMeS (Digital Management ecoSystem). Its purpose is to avoid randomness in the managerial role and to guide managers in the efficient and optimal realization of their day/week/month to maximize the value they create:

  • Presence in the right place, at the right time, and in a structured way
  • Rigorous monitoring of critical parameters and performance indicators
  • Triggering action plans and resolving performance gaps
  • Proactive management of the organization's performance as an integrated team
  • Real-time project management organization and follow-up
    SUIVEZ ET MESUREZ VOTRE PERFORMANCE UTrakk DMeSTéléchargez notre brochure

Resulting in financial, operational, and, most importantly, human benefits

Management 4.0 – powered by UTrakk DMeS, enables managers to gain complete mastery of their role, giving them an unprecedented ability to collaborate with the rest of their organization. The benefit? The creation of a performance culture, which, in turn, improves operational performance. Financially, this means increasing productivity and reducing material waste and reworking. Above all, it helps at the human level to:

  • Increase the manager's sense of achievement.
  • Facilitate the fulfillment of the manager's role
  • Increase managers' credibility and legitimacy
  • Stimulate collaboration between direct and cross-functional teams
  • Attracting new talents that are steeped in technology daily

And that while maximizing and encapsulating the knowledge of today's teams in management tools.

With a good management "suit," managers don't spend their day wondering how to manage but rather how to create value by managing. And the suit is what guides this management process. That enables us to multiply the value of the managers we work with tenfold and help them maximize their sense of achievement and pride with their team. Management 4.0 isn't just about technology; it's about placing people at the heart of technology. Basically, it's Industry 5.0!

FAQ - Manager 4.0

What is Industry 4.0?


Why do some companies feel left behind by Industry 4.0?


What are some of the risks of being left behind by Industry 4.0?


What can companies do to catch up with Industry 4.0?


What are some of the challenges that companies may face when trying to catch up with Industry 4.0?


How can Industry 4.0 benefit companies that embrace it?


How does Industry 4.0 impact management?


What is the role of managers in Industry 4.0?


How can managers develop the necessary skills for Industry 4.0?


Want to turn your managers into Management 4.0 experts?

Our technological solution UTrakk DMeS guides your managers in the efficient and optimal execution of their day to maximize their value creation.

Jean-Philippe Raiche

Jean-Philippe Raiche

Partner – Strategy and Development A partner at Proaction International, Mr. Raiche holds advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and quality. As an expert in the effective integration of performance and excellence best practices, he has accompanied more than a thousand companies in America and Europe over the past two decades, in addition to giving conferences and contributing to several publications about quality and performance.