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Business transformations – intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship and data science

Business Transformation Matteo

Business transformations – intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship and data science

Fourth industrial revolution

We are at the edge of the fourth industrial revolution, which will reshape our society as a whole. Therefore, it is paramount that business leaders understand the potential of this phenomenon to unlock its value for their organisations. This is made even more important by the fact that this revolution spans not only the manufacturing industries but the service industries too.

Cyber-physical systems are the general-purpose technology leading this revolution. They can merge the physical and virtual worlds, integrating computation and physical processes. The deployment of this innovative technology will aid companies in achieving the design principles of the revolution: interconnection, technical assistance, decentralised decisions, and information transparency. More broadly, this will have a significant impact on firms’ business models – in essence, on the way they work.

Intelligent robots as one of the main sources of innovation

Among the technological pillars leading to the creation of the cyber-physical system is the infusion of artificial intelligence in robots. This is currently considered the main source of innovation for the development of fourth industrial revolution projects, especially in the service industries. Their adoption spreads around a wide range of sectors, from the healthcare to the hospitality industry. This is because this new form of innovation is primarily associated with productivity gains. Indeed, intelligent robots help automatise processes at a lower unit cost. Moreover, prominent scholars and industry leaders consider them to be part of the workforce of the future: not entirely replacing human employees, but rather working conjointly with them to create the so-called hybrid workforce. Therefore, it is important to understand how consumers are making sense of their interactions with intelligent robots. To this aim, electronic word-of-mouth data seems to be a powerful means to capture and track the diffusion of this new form of innovation.

So, what does it mean for business leaders?

It is the business leader’s duty to understand how to strategically and efficiently manage and adopt new technologies – especially digital technologies. Indeed, as we have seen above, these technologies have a remarkable impact not only on business operations but also on the division of work, and on the workforce as a whole. Therefore, specific plans need to be put in place to effectively create, deliver and capture value from the deployment of new innovative and, at times, disruptive technologies. Moreover, digital technologies should also be deployed ethically and transparently in line with the company’s identity. This philosophy has recently seen the rise of the concept of corporate digital responsibility, whereby the adoption of new digital technologies needs to be aligned with the company culture. This is why business leaders need to have a well-rounded understanding of the company and the technology itself to make informed decisions about the future of their business.

About the author

Dr Matteo Borghi's research lies at the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship and data science, with special reference to the impact of Industry 4.0 technologies – robotics and artificial intelligence, above all – on digital business modelling and the e-reputation of tourism and hospitality companies. In his research, Matteo leverages electronic word-of-mouth data.


Borghi, M & Mariani, M (2021) Service robots in online reviews: An empirical study of online robotic discourse. Annals of Tourism Research, article number 103036

Borghi, M & Mariani, M (2022) The role of emotions in the consumer meaning-making of interactions with social robots. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 182, article number 121844

Lobschat, L, Mueller, B, Eggers, F, Brandimarte, L, Diefenbach, S, Kroschke, M & Wirtz, J (2021) Corporate digital responsibility.

Journal of Business Research, 122, 875–88 Mariani, M & Borghi, M (2019) Industry 4.0: A bibliometric review of its managerial intellectual structure and potential evolution in the service industries. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 149, article number 119752

Wirtz, J, Patterson, P G, Kunz, W H, Gruber, T, Lu, V N, Paluch, S & Martins, A (2018) Brave new world: Service robots in the frontline. Journal of Service Management, 29 (5), 907–31

More in this series

• Can your company survive and thrive in today’s evolving business environment?

• Are psychopath leaders stifling sustainability and business transformation?

• Data doesn’t have to be big to be clever! Why small data is a change agent’s best friend

• Business transformations – why you need to change your mindset to change your fortunes

• Many boards are abdicating their ESG responsibilities – they need to wake up to the realities of sustainability

• Transforming for sustainability

• How supplier partnerships can enhance the benefits of working collaboratively with external organisation

This article is one of a series exploring the challenges of business transformation.

Visit the Improvement Leader Apprenticeship | Managing Business Transformation to read more and discover how Henley’s apprenticeships can drive strategic change and improvement

Published 12 January 2023
Article AI and automation

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